Architecture and Design

Inside Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions: the beating pulse of city’s ‘last ghetto’ captured on camera

  • Some people see the five blocks in Tsim Sha Tsui as a place for cheap food and accommodation, while others consider them a hotbed of crime
  • A Taiwanese photographer has captured life inside the buildings in a new book
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 1:01pm

People have mixed feelings about Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district. Some see the five 17-storey blocks on Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, as a haven for cheap food and even cheaper accommodation, while others see it as a hotbed for sex and drugs.

In 2009, Taipei-born photographer Nana Chen started exploring the building for an arts project, spending time wandering the corridors, using her camera as a guide.

48 hours in Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions

She found the building’s beating pulse and compiled a portrait of the place and the people who live there – from Nepalese guest-house owners to Bangladeshi workers and Pakistanis who sell mobile phones to Nigerian traders who hire Indian cargo companies to ship their wares home.

The resultscan be seen in Chungking Mansions: Photographs from Hong Kong’s Last Ghetto, published this month by Blacksmith Books.

Chen’s images depict the human side of the much-maligned Mansions, showing people going about their daily business alongside the grime and wear-and-tear of the dilapidated structures.

If the buildings are ever demolished, historical records such as this book will be all we have left of this iconic piece of Hong Kong history.