This stunning book, by Rufina Wu (architect, Vancouver) and Stefan Canham (photographer, Hamburg and producer of UNHOUSED favorite: Bauwagen | Mobile Squatters
), is an in depth look at settlements built on top of other buildings in Hong Kong. It came out late last year on Peperoni Press (Berlin).
This book is 280 pages of photographs, drawings, and short interviews with the settlements' inhabitants. The duo spent 3 months in Hong Kong exhaustively documenting 5 of these settlements. They didn't have any organizational or personal contacts to people living in any of the settlements. They walked up the stairs of the first building and started talking to people.
Rufina Wu made extensive measurements of each settlement, converted those to CAD drawings, and in order to get better line quality, remade the drawings in Illustrator. The result is beautiful and well worth the effort. Stefan Canham took the lavish, carefully constructed photographs that you find in this book with his large format camera. The photographs are in both color and black and white. The craft of the documentation is impeccable.
There is a very brief section, only 3 images, of evicted settlements. The photographs here are powerful and show the erased homes and lives of people whose plight must have been very similar to the others documented in this book.
The visual and oral research that Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham did is anchored by an essay, "Rooftop Housing in Hong Kong: An Introduction," by Dr. Ernest Chui. The essay lays out some of the historical and economic reasons for the existence of the rooftop settlements: various waves of legal and illegal immigration, tolerance for inadequate housing rather than spending money on public housing, critical shortage of land, and more.
I am particularly happy about this book as the two met through UNHOUSED. In May of this year, they will present their book in exhibition format in Hamburg's Kunst Haus. There will be an UNHOUSED film screening to accompany the exhibition and I will be in attendance for it.
You can order the book here: 25 Books