strawdogs

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kowloon walled city

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Kowloon Walled City an urban development in Hong Kong, was torn down in 1993, over 15 years ago.  It was abandoned after the Japanese occupied the city and tore down its granite walls destroying its feng shui harmony; and later occupied by Chinese refugees fleeing Communist reforms in the north.  It became a model of anarchy.  I keep going back to JG Ballard – his dystopian novel High Rise took place in a modern european residential tower. 

From the Columbia University site

And so, the Walled City became that rarest of things, a working model of an anarchist society. Inevitably, it bred all the vices. Crime flourished and the Triads made the place their stronghold, operating brothels and opium ‘divans’ and gambling dens. Undoubtedly, these few (and it always was a small proportion) kept the majority of residents in a state of fear and subjection, which is why for many years outsiders trying to penetrate were given the coldest of shoulders.

But for most, the main priority was survival and their needs were little different from anyone else’s: a life without interference with water, light, food and space. Of these water was the most indispensable and in the early years the only way to get it was to go down. And so that’s what they did, sinking some 70 wells in and around the City, to a depth of some 300 feet. Electric pumps shot the water up to tanks on the rooftops from where it descended via an ad hoc forest of narrow pipes and connections to the homes of subscribers. Only in the last 20 years were Government stand-pipes installed around the City to provide safe drinking water.

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Written by Peter Rudd

May 17, 2009 at 1:07 am

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