Friday, July 17, 2009

ANGST/itecture [6] : Hak Nam

"Hak Nam, City of Darkness, the old Walled City of Kowloon was finally demolished ten years ago, in 1993, and to the end it retained its seedy magnificence. Rearing up abruptly in the heart of urban Hong Kong, 10, 12 and in some places as many as 14 storeys high, there was no mistaking it: an area 200 metres by 100 metres of solid building, home to some 35,000 people, not the largest, perhaps, but certainly one of the densest urban slums in the world. It was also, arguably, the closest thing to a truly self-regulating, self-sufficient, self-determining modern city that has ever been built."
-- forum.skyscraperpage.com



"The Kowloon Walled City was located just outside Hong Kong, China during British rule. A former watchpost to protect the area against pirates, it was occupied by Japan during World War II and subsequently taken over by squatters after Japan’s surrender. Neither Britain nor China wanted responsibility for it, so it became its own lawless city ... Its population flourished for decades, with residents building labyrinthine corridors above the street level, which was clogged with trash. The buildings grew so tall that sunlight couldn’t reach the bottom levels and the entire city had to be illuminated with fluorescent lights. It was a place where brothels, casinos, opium dens, cocaine parlors, food courts serving dog meat and secret factories ran unmolested by authorities. It was finally torn down in 1993 after a mutual decision was made by British and Chinese authorities, who had finally grown wary of the unsanitary, anarchic city and its out-of-control population."
-- Kowloon Walled City

photos from City of Darkness







In Idoru, Gibson maps the walled city into cyberspace as a kind of subversive, anarchic oasis, a rhizomatic 'dead zone', for hackers and criminals outside the influence of law and corporate capital. Gibson describes the unsettling vertigo when his protagonist first experiences the walled city:

"Something at the core of things moved simultaneously in mutually impossible directions. It wasn't even like porting. Software conflict? Faint impression of light through a fluttering of rags. And then the thing before her: building or biomass or cliff face looming there, in countless unplanned strata, nothing about it even or regular. Accreted patchwork of shallow random balconies, thousands of small windows throwing back blank silver rectangles of fog."
-- from 'Idoru' by William Gibson

HAKNAM ... a space for creativity without preconditioned borders.




"Once you step out of the sunlight into the narrow corridors, it's time to protect your nuts guys!"

1 comment:

  1. I responded here.

    http://tecumseh-valley.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete