Detailed Cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City Created by Japanese Researchers

Detailed Cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City

click images to enlarge (hi-res version of the file available here)

The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the most densely populated place on earth. And without a single architect or any oversight whatsoever, the ungoverned hive of interlinking buildings became a haven for drugs, crime and prostitution. This is perhaps why the surreal, M.C. Escher-like structure, where one couldn’t even begin to imagine what life was like, captured the interest of the Japanese.

When it was demolished in 1993 the Japanese public tuned in to national television where it was being broadcast. But what most didn’t know was that, up until the previous evening, a group of Japanese researchers, which included architects, engineers and city planners, and led by historian and cultural anthropologist Hiroaki Kani, had entered the deserted city and had been documenting every nook and cranny up until the bulldozers arrived.

Their findings were compiled into a book that was published 5 years later. Almost as dense as the city itself, the book includes meticulously drawn cross-sections, panoramic views, explanations of different areas and much more. A friend once let me flip through his copy and spent almost an hour mesmerized by the book’s intensity.

Detailed Cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City

detailed view of the cross-section illustrates a mahjong parlor, a strip club and a plastics factory

Japan’s fascination with the Kowloon Walled City has led to numerous other projects as well, such as a 3D model and – perhaps most ambitious of all – an arcade modeled after the city.

Detailed Cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City




Detailed Cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City

Detailed Cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City

detailed view of the cross-section illustrates a cafeteria and a tunneled passageway that’s always leaking rain water

Detailed Cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City

H/T @themexican

7 Comments

  1. LOVE THIS!! I’m a huge fan of Kawloon city and its history..more please.

  2. Stunning! I’m tempted to buy a copy despite the hefty price tag. Do you known how the cross section appears in the book? Is it a pull-out of some kind or spread across several pages? I’m curious if it could be displayed on a wall in some way. Thanks!

  3. @Matt – yes, it’s a pull-out that stretches 3-4 pages. If it’s the same version I saw many years ago then there are also several other pull-outs.

  4. I love this! I was in Hong Kong last month to visit a friend and I made him take me to the park where the city once was. He had never been there! The park is beautiful and they have a nice little exhibit about the walled in city and the history of the area before the city was even there. Walking around the area, I can only imagine what it looked like when it was actually there. Visiting the park was the highlight of my trip for sure!

  5. I wanted to say thanks for sharing these, I have been in love with images from Kowloon since I first came across them in 1992. I would love to see more.

  6. I’ve seen a copy of that book, and those maps were not in it. Unless they had been ripped out, I think they’re from some other souce.

  7. wow never knew this existed. the arcade is definitely worth a visit if you’re in tokyo
    you probably already linked this in your other article but cool background on how the arcade was

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