Category Archives : Architecture & Infrastructure

BLOG – Photographs of Hong Kong’s Rooftop Slums

Limited space and sky-high rents have pushed HK’s poor into cages, ‘shoeboxes‘, sub-divided death traps and up onto rooftop slums in the blistering heat. Average house prices in Hong Kong have jumped 76% since 2008, with no end in sight to the ever-increasing, monstrous cost of housing…

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Artwork by

Rufina Wu & Stefan Canham have drawn attention to the underprivileged Hong Kongers who exist at the bottom of society but on top of the city. The images below are from their photographic project, ‘Portraits from Above: Hong Kong’s Informal Rooftop Communities‘…

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One of the five residential focus points of the book is a mixed-use structure located in Tai Kok Tsui (above). The area first developed as a shipyard which linked into other heavy industries but, since the 1980s, many of the factories have relocated. Like Sham Shui Po and Kwun Tong, this area is a redevelopment zone and is expected to undergo major transformations.

HISTORY – A Brief Visual History of Hong Kong’s Old Airport, Kai Tak

Heralded as the sixth most dangerous in the world, Kai Tak served as Hong Kong’s airport from 1925 till 1998.

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Courtesy Daryl Chapman,

Landings over densely populated Kowloon were spectacular and involved a complicated last-minute manoeuvre known in the piloting community as a ‘Hong Kong turn’ or ‘checkerboard turn’, after the checkerboard reference point above Kowloon Tsai Park (still visible now – click for some eerie close-up shots).

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In 1925, Kai Tai was a simple grass-strip airfield which served the British RAF and enthusiasts from the Hong Kong Aviation Club (which still exists today).

HISTORY – A Brief Visual History of The Peak Tram

It has been 126 years since the Peak Tram opened in Hong Kong though, technically, it is not even a tram but a ‘cable-hauled funicular railway’. Below is a brief, visual history of one of the city’s most iconic treasures…

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Click to enlarge, via richardwonghk6 on Flickr

The son of Queen Victoria, Alfred, became, the first royal visitor to make a ritual trip to The Peak in 1869. It was noted how His Highness expressed “surprise that the wealthy merchant princes of the colony had not yet availed themselves of the opportunity of the presence in the vicinity of their city of a position offering so bracing a climate, in the hottest time of the year.” Quite.

The ‘Rush to The Peak’ had commenced with Hong Kong’s population rising to 173,475 by 1883. Several dozen of the city’s elite families were now living on The Peak and it was also home to The Peak Hotel. The area remained accessible only by horse or sedan chair. (One local eccentric, E R Belilios, preferred to travel the winding paths by camel, though none of these options were comfortable, especially in HK’s heat).

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Thus, Peak Hotel owner and Scotsman Alexander Findlay Smith, planned to open up the area with a new tram system to connect Victoria Gap to Murray Barracks…

HISTORY – Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline – a Visual History

Below is a brief visual history of how the Hong Kong skyline developed over the decades.

Pre-1869 painting of Hong Kong harbour

Pre-1869 painting via RGS-IBG image / E. L. Watling

1880s – Beginning with a rare shot of the harbour from the 19th century – the same decade in which the Star Ferry became operational.

 Hong Kong harbour

via New York Times

 Hong Kong harbour

1890, click to enlarge

1900s – Next, a quaint postcard from 1906 (via…

 Hong Kong harbour


1910s – The CBD, gradually creeping up The Peak, was then named Victoria City. There was no light show back then (but click here for a photo of the harbour at night, some 106 years ago!)…

HISTORY – The Long-Lost Haunted Castles of Hong Kong

Eu Tong Sen was a well-known tycoon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with business interests across Southeast Asia. He was also vice-president of the Anti-Opium Society and a somewhat eccentric property owner. Heir to his family’s retail and mining businesses, he took control of his father’s estate in 1898. Over the decades that followed, he multiplied his fortune several times over. By age 30, he was one of the region’s richest men, specialising in the tin mining and rubber industries.

Castle in Hong Kong

via Aeste on Flickr

Eu built three castles in Hong Kong – Eucliffe was the most well-known. It was famous for being a social hot spot in the 1930s and was located next door to the Kadoorie’s Repulse Bay Hotel. The folly featured a large collection of ancient western armour as well as stained glass windows. 

HISTORY – How Hong Kong Was Made: Iconic Buildings Under Construction

Completed in 1972, Jardine House was the tallest in Asia, built on reclaimed land under the agreement that no other building would obstruct its views. With 52 floors, it was constructed with a metal frame and a curtain wall and round windows – a design which earned it the nickname “House of a Thousand Arseholes.”…

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via Sing Tao

BLOG – Literal Translations of Hong Kong’s MTR Stations

Blogger Justin Moe has attempted to translate all of Hong Kong’s MTR station names literally from Chinese to English. Click the image below to enlarge.

MTR Stations literal tranlsations

Click to enlarge – Literal MTR station names.

‘Lost in Mong Kok’ blog attempted more crude ‘direct’ translation of station names last year. Click to enlarge.

HISTORY – A New Kowloon Walled City 15-min Documentary & Book

Diana Jou and Lara Day of the Wall Street Journal have produced a new 15-minute documentary about the Kowloon Walled City. Once the densest place on Earth, the colourful, maze-like hotbed of of ‘crime, grime, commerce and hope’ was torn down 20 years ago…

Below are shots from ‘City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City‘ – a photobook by Greg Girard and Ian Lambot.

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The duo are planning an expanded, follow-up edition…