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The Architecture of Kowloon Walled City: An Excerpt from 'City of Darkness Revisited'

In light of the release of a second, revised edition of City of Darkness -- the authoritative text on Kowloon Walled City, which you can help Kickstart here -- authors Greg Girard and Ian Lambot have shared an excerpt from City of Darkness Revisited.

The early phases of the Walled City were characterised by predictable building typologies and the buildings were constructed on the principle of squatters’ rights, with random construction on spots of available land by whoever got there first. Alleyways and passages evolved – unplanned – into the established ‘map’ of the City, which would remain until it came down. A basic electric supply existed, increasingly burdened by illegal connections that frequently overloaded the system, and the few standpipes supplied the only water. As the need to accommodate the ever growing residential and commercial populations forced it to in the 1960s, the building typology of the Walled City made the leap from two- to three-storey residential structures to taller, six- to seven-storey ones. This represented an important threshold, because at these greater heights the buildings unavoidably became more complex and required greater labour to realise, reinforced concrete, more investment, and so on. They also required a different way of living. Water had to be transported up to the higher floors by hand. Likewise the propane gas canisters that furnished fuel to cook or heat water.

Courtesy of 'City of Darkness Revisited' Courtesy of 'City of Darkness Revisited' Courtesy of 'City of Darkness Revisited' Courtesy of 'City of Darkness Revisited' + 10