BY: CONNOR BRIAN
The word claustrophobia finds new definition in Hong Kong. The city is one of the most densely populated places in the world, with over 7.2 million people squished inside and the area of just 1,104 square kilometres. Space has become its most in-demand resource, creating a market of soaring housing costs where a small apartment can cost $2,000 a square foot. It’s no wonder a third of the city’s population can only afford to live like sardines in subsidized housing.
It seems that the only room in Hong Kong to build is upwards, which according to Danish architect Jan Gehl is contrary to human happiness. He says the ideal human scale is five to six stories high, anything more overwhelms the horizon line and blocks out the sun, making humans feel insignificant.
By 2050, up to 80% of human life will exist in megacities, raising questions of how rapid growth will affect our future living environment. For his project “Stacked,” photographer Peter Stewart investigates this issue by assuming the viewpoint of a pedestrian who cranes his neck to view buildings that stretch far up into the sky. The symmetry, repetition, and vivid colours of the structures are mesmerizing, and ask us to consider the architecture of human happiness.
Looking at the clothes that dangle from barred windows, and balconies that are blocked from most of the day’s natural light, he wonders about the lives of the people inside.