+++ 3rd edition avalable +++
Portraits from above
Hong Kong's informal rooftop communities
Photographs: Stefan Canham; Architectural drawings: Rufina Wu
Self-built, informal settlements on the roofs of high-rise buildings are an integral part of Hong Kong’s urban landscape. The rise of rooftop communities is closely linked to the migration history from Chinese Mainland to Hong Kong. With each of China’s tumultuous political movements in the 20th century, like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, there was a corresponding wave of Mainland Chinese migrating to Hong Kong.
From the preface written by Rufina Wu und Stefan Canham:
There is no elevator. We walk up the eight flights of stairs, hesitating on the last one, looking at each other, out of breath: we have no right to be here.
The roof is a maze of corridors, narrow passageways between huts built of sheet metal, wood, brick and plastics. There are steps and ladders leading up to a second level of huts. We get lost. Our leaflets in hand, Rufina knocks on a door. There is an exchange in Cantonese. Stefan stands in the background, the foreigner, smiling, not understanding a word. They hear us out, smile back and invite us into their homes.
Later, we look down at the building from a higher one across the street. The roof is huge, like a village. There must be thirty or forty households on it. From the outside there is no way of knowing what is inside. Whether they have Internet or not. Whether they have a toilet. And there is no way of knowing their stories…
Self-built settlements on the roofs of high-rise buildings have been an integral part of Hong Kong's history for over half a century. Rooftop structures range from basic shelters for the disadvantaged to intricate multi-storey constructions equipped with the amenities of modern life. Rufina Wu (Canada) and Stefan Canham (Germany) utilize the tools of an architect and the tools of a photographer to document rooftop communities on five buildings located in older districts in the Kowloon Peninsula, slated for redevelopment by the Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong. Text records of the residents' stories, measured drawings of each distinct rooftop structure, and high-resolution images of the domestic interiors of more than twenty households offer an unprecedented insight into the everyday life on Hong Kong's rooftops.
Rufina Wu / Stefan Canham / 2008
Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham.
Portraits from above - Hong Kong's informal rooftop communities
With an essay by Dr. Ernest Chui and further texts
100 photographs in color and black&white
58 architectural drawings
23 x 25,4 cm
English / Chinese
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