If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Daily Mail)   A fascinating look at Kowloon Walled City, a Mad-Max style city in Hong Kong made up of interconnected buildings   (dailymail.co.uk) divider line 134
    More: Cool, Kowloon Walled City, high-rise buildings, British rule, eating dogs, emergency evacuation, Culture of China, diplomacies, health and safety  
•       •       •

22172 clicks; posted to Main » on 05 May 2012 at 11:16 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

134 Comments   (+0 »)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

Archived thread

First | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | » | Last | Show all
2012-05-06 03:51:45 AM

Aidan: mjg: NerdCoreRageQuit: Good to see a fellow farker interested in arch/urban planning. Thanks for the info above.

Ditto. I've been looking at "intentional communities" (haha communes), but I didn't have City Beautiful on my search list. Thank you!

The City Beautiful is interesting but you might want to go back a bit in terms of zoning either to the Chicago or NY Schools. For the NY School, the vertical setback zoning began to take hold last century. Search The Equitable Building in NYC. A nice starting point when talking about building large structures (even up to why the old and new WTC are the way they are).
2012-05-06 04:03:17 AM

the ham sap gwailo: Oznog, there were corridors of buildings that just went through to other buildings, even one I remember completely bypassed one building in between two others . Start out on the fifth floor here,walk through a door and you're on the seventh floor there. Same with some of the flats, one door exited to one building, another door joined to a flat in the next building, often with a few steps up or down for the height difference. People would just knock holes in walls and connect to whatever was on the other side.

Mad place to chase people.

There was some low income housing in Detroit or Chicago where the gangs knocked holes in the walls and could get away from the police with ease.

Looking at the aerial view, there's a large open rectangular area almost dead center of Kowloon. Was that open all the way to the ground? It almost looks like a park.
2012-05-06 04:03:27 AM

NerdCoreRageQuit: Well, the thing about blueprints, plans, documentation and such are that they are usually made PRIOR to a building being built. If you were to go back, measure and draw from scratch a building without existing plans (which I did as a career choice back in the day), you would find it to be an *extremely* time consuming process requiring a ton of man hours.

For something like this City, good luck finding the individuals who would want to go out, measure and draw up the plans. Regular buildings that are only a few decades old are enough to drive an architect mad trying to draw them up.

I mean, with old buildings in the US you can still rely on construction techniques that have been around for a century to help you draw them up... But you're talking about a City that had no building or planning codes driving its construction? Hell no. No sane architect (or corp of valiant architectural interns) will take that on. Sorry, it gets to me when people go "but a great treasure was lost!" without realizing how much it'll cost to save.
On that note, I think City Planners have already learned their lessons from the gross industrialization of the 1800's and saw a vision of a better future with the City Beautiful Movement. City Planners are on it already.

Of course it couldn't be "saved". It was deteriorating in 1993. With no tax base, there is little incentive to save any building, much less a gargantuan, useless hulk like this. The costs to make it safe would be incalculable, if not wholly impossible (the foundations were crap, absurdly bad for 10-13 story buildings), it's still useless except as an academic curiosity, and any attempts to MAKE it safe would have largely defeated the point since it would remove its chaotic character. There was no guarantee the thing wouldn't collapse in on itself when it was occupied in 1991, but without residents left there, there'd be no telling what was happening, there could be a 3ft-wide crack splitting a building in two and no one would know.

It was 1993 and that's a huge technological gap from now. Today, we would have sent in 3D mapping cameras to get a 3D survey of what was done. There'd be a bunch of urban archaeologists exploring it and tagging their photoessays onto the 3D survey.

But I think Hong Kong considered it an embarrassment anyways, and would rather it "go away" as quietly as possible. THAT'S the shame of it.

I'm sure demolition of it was terrifying. Normally, for large buildings they consult blueprints and plant explosives to make it implode. Guarantee it falls completely. When no one's around. Not on your demolition crew. But there were no blueprints, and the architecture was beyond any comprehension.


Looks like they just hammered it with a wrecking ball and hoped for the best. A wrecking ball? On a 13 story building?? With a built-up area around it? Kinda terrifying.
2012-05-06 04:09:03 AM
2012-05-06 04:23:33 AM
2012-05-06 04:41:25 AM

lordargent: Weaver95: couple/few more years and that's what new york, philadelphia and Los Angeles are gonna end up looking like...

Nahh, you need a place with poor building code enforcement.

Like China.

Or India


//interestingly, I mistyped 'slum' as 'slub' in my GIS, and discovered that 'indian slub' is some sort of textile.

I like studying slums. It reminds me why we need government, why we need building codes. Given how many inanely stupid building codes there are, that needs some explanation to me. As polluted as they are with electrician-union-sponsored crap, we do NEED a regulatory body with power. It needs to be better structured, but we still need it.


River slums are pretty strange too. Here, the thing is, because it's a river bank, it's not used for "real" construction, a building or road. Oddly enough you could say they built on it because "you can't build on it". Nobody told them they could do it, it's an illegal slum, but unless you're willing to go in, arrest them, rip it all down, only to watch it be rebuilt immediately, well, it will continue to be a "thing".

I came to understand what Chris Farley meant by living in a VAN down by the RIVER. There are riverbank squatters in the US, land that isn't a home or road or business or farm or park, but will probably have an access road to it. Which would never be exploited for any real purpose because it floods.
2012-05-06 04:54:19 AM
Meta note: There's usually one of these on every thread, someone who just wants to say a certain thing and uses a previous idiot's comment as an excuse to vent.

NerdCoreRageQuit: For everyone saying that this is how [generic American City Name here] is going to end up

It was one poster. One. And he was trollin, and you bit. Congratulations.
2012-05-06 05:19:07 AM
End_Of_Line: thanks for the reference, but could you have at least prepared me for the sticker-shock!

It's a > 200 page photo book that's over 10 years old and you're shocked at the ~$80 price tag?

I have one of these In used, but nearly pristine condition.

It's available for $20 used, but new it's $140 minimum? Does not compute!
2012-05-06 06:36:55 AM
I wonder if the food-oriented businesses were hampered at all by health and safety regulations....
2012-05-06 07:14:45 AM

ArcadianRefugee: I wonder if the food-oriented businesses were hampered at all by health and safety regulations....

It certainly didn't look like it. Seems you had your William S. Burroughs fill of cigarette and cigar ash falling into your meal for that "personal touch". It looks like it was a Libertarian Paradise!
2012-05-06 08:02:29 AM

Pointy Tail of Satan: Has a kind of Republican look to it. No irritating building regulators or codes to worry about.

2012-05-06 08:39:51 AM

the ham sap gwailo: imapirate: Batman would have cleaned that place up.

Guess that makes me Batman then. I was in charge of the clearance operation in 1992 and had been in there more than quite a few times for vice enforcement since the early 80s. The photo showing 3 policemen in berets were blokes under my command, and was taken during the clearance. I was threatened during the clearance by a group of 'residents' (actually crime gang members who had moved in a few months before to trick compensation from the Government) with bombs made from gas cylinders. 'Biff bang pow' and all taken care of. Maybe Christopher Nolan got the idea with the fuel drums for the Dark Knight from that!

Nice name you perv.
2012-05-06 08:46:38 AM
The owner?
2012-05-06 08:54:50 AM
Is not amused:

2012-05-06 09:00:03 AM

the ham sap gwailo: Thanks. Absolutely real, worked in the HK police from 1976 to 2010. Not researched, experienced! :)

Very interesting. Glad I came back and read that this morning.
2012-05-06 09:06:18 AM

NoWhiskeyWeGoNow: Any brave (and most likely drunk) Navy guy that took the ferry across from Hong Kong wandered into that place. Quite an adventure.

I spent many, many days and nights wandering that place (several visits between 88-91). Most of the time I wasn't even drunk, I just loved exploring. Kowloon was the first place I'd head when off the ship, you could get away from all the sailors if you took that ferry and went deep into Kowloon.

Never had a problem with crime...hell I used to pay 5 bucks a night to rent a room in that amazing hellhole.
2012-05-06 09:52:42 AM
Just want to thank that Ham guy for the great information. Better than the article.
2012-05-06 09:52:52 AM

mjg: I remember flying over that when visiting HK. Dangerously close to the old airport.

Anyone have a link to pics after they raised it?

We've all been looking at them, actually...
2012-05-06 09:59:51 AM
Megacity One.
2012-05-06 10:36:21 AM
Truly a miracle the place didn't burn to the ground decades ago. A building inspector's nightmare.
2012-05-06 10:54:29 AM
Not a single Wayne's World reference?
2012-05-06 11:20:19 AM

Coelacanth: Looking at the aerial view, there's a large open rectangular area almost dead center of Kowloon. Was that open all the way to the ground? It almost looks like a park.

I think that's where the temple was. Even with anarchy, no one was willing to violate the space of the temple.
2012-05-06 11:39:33 AM

the ham sap gwailo: Thanks. Absolutely real, worked in the HK police from 1976 to 2010. Not researched, experienced!

Way cool. Thanks for sharing the info.
2012-05-06 12:14:57 PM
Looks like a New Republican paradise of me.

Bootstraps and deregulation as far as the eye can see. Check.

A few control access to resource and demand tribute arbitrarily. Check.

Armed citizens police themselves. Check.

2012-05-06 12:41:03 PM
I've stayed in Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road, and that was not that different from the Walled City. Shops, restaurants, and hostels all crammed together in a decaying highrise.
2012-05-06 01:52:10 PM
2012-05-06 02:18:01 PM
Kowloon documentary in subtitles

This is a German documentary that is very interesting!
2012-05-06 03:12:06 PM
Second Life has a version of this to explore. It's a fun place to wander around:

2012-05-06 03:43:47 PM

Saberus Terras: I think that's where the temple was. Even with anarchy, no one was willing to violate the space of the temple.

That is heavy. Thanks.

You know, one of these days, if we're lucky,we're going to be building generation ships to go to other star systems. Kowloon shows that socially this may be possible.
2012-05-06 06:50:36 PM

Marshall Banana: little law enforcement.

A libertarian paradise would have law enforcement. You can't have property rights, another thing missing from the walled city, without a legal system.

You might as well call Detroit a Democrat paradise because everyone's on welfare.
2012-05-06 07:04:40 PM

Saberus Terras: I think that's where the temple was. Even with anarchy, no one was willing to violate the space of the temple.

They actually believe in God, not the lip service most Westerners pay to justify it's use as a tool of power of control. Note the Godless Chinese Communists absolutely deny their Buddhist roots.
2012-05-06 07:51:28 PM

sinanju: imapirate: Batman would have cleaned that place up.

Somebody did. They knocked it down some time ago.

That's what I heard.

To get a firsthand account of what it was like inside the Walled City, try to find a copy of the book "Chasing the Dragons" by Jackie Pullinger (RIP).
2012-05-06 09:27:42 PM
Looks like that place in Contagion.
2012-05-06 11:39:23 PM

buckler: fusillade762: Looks like something out of a cyberpunk novel.

This. I was just thinking that if you threw in some console cowboys, black surgeons and data hustlers, that could come right out of a William Gibson novel.

count me as one of the William Gibson readers... I always pictured something like these pictures when reading the bridge trilogy.
Displayed 34 of 134 comments

First | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | » | Last | Show all

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

This thread is archived, and closed to new comments.

Continue Farking
Submit a Link »