I started working on the series in 2011, literally learning about Hong Kong as I went along. The more locations I scouted, the stronger the impulsion to push further and explore more. I just had to see it all, even the most obscure and secluded corners that I would never think of visiting again.
Through the medium of photography, I wanted to find an original ‘angle’ that would open up a fresh perspective on what I found most captivating about Hong Kong: its sheer density and ‘vertical sprawl’. The solution finally came to me while gazing at the moving clouds framed between towers. The idea was to look straight up, focusing my vision on the vertical development of the city. Shifting the perspective in such a close-packed city enabled me to convey my visual shock just as intensely as it was felt.
I come from Paris, a city where architectural restrictions are important and where most of the population actually lives in suburbs. But in Hong Kong, building around the city core is not an option, as relatively flat land is very scarce and surrounded either by mountains or sea. Reclaiming land is a widely used option, but also an expensive one. Thus, each piece of buildable land needs to be used as effectively as possible, and the best way to maximise the land is to build vertically.
I can’t think of any other city in the world whose verticality has been taken to quite the extreme as in Hong Kong. The future of the city is not to go out further and further, but to build up higher and higher. It is this ‘vertical horizon’ I wanted to show in my photo series.
I also included photos of Macau, the sister-city of Hong Kong, which shares the same vertical growth and some similarities in terms of architecture, especially in the older residential districts.
#1 Vertical Horizon #104
Inside a private housing estate at night, the lights from the apartments are illuminating the structure while clouds are passing in the sky. Photo taken in 2016.
#2 Vertical Horizon #38
Mirroring glass facades of buildings using a modern architecture. These buildings located in Kowloon are sheltering hotels and offices. Photo taken in 2012.
#3 Vertical Horizon #105
At night the lights from the apartments are illuminating the facades while clouds are passing above them in the sky. Photo taken in 2016.
#4 Vertical Horizon #99
Photo taken in the inner court of an iconic residential buildings of Hong Kong island. Photo taken in 2015.
#5 Vertical Horizon #33
Circle-shape public housing in Hong Kong with its iconic blue circles echoing. Recently this estate has been featured in the movie Ghost In The Shell.
Photo taken in 2012.
#6 Vertical Horizon #109
These buildings are all part of the same private residential estate developed a decade ago to replace the old buildings of Hong Kong. In the sky, we can see the moon shining brightly through the moving clouds. Photo taken in 2016.
#7 Vertical Horizon #103
This is a view of the inside of a private residential single building in Macau. Photo taken in 2016.
#8 Vertical Horizon #106
On Hong Kong island, the density of skyscrapers reaches records high. Here we can see the facade of a hotel on the right side being reflected on the glass facade of the building next to it, during the blue hour. Photo taken in 2016.
#9 Vertical Horizon #107
This private housing estate of Hong Kong shows a glimpse of the high density of residential districts where a large part of the population live. Photo taken in 2016.
#10 Vertical Horizon #16
While many residential buildings are using the same architecture style, this one which is located in the New Territories seem to have been tailor-made and has been used nowhere else in Hong Kong. The yellow squares repeating themselves until they disappear into the sky look like a vertical corridor. Photo taken in 2012.
#11 Vertical Horizon #110
In the older part of Macau, the casino developed earlier are less tall and fancy than the ones being built in the last few years. This one features an impressive light sign of a windmill which reminds the Moulin-Rouge, the iconic building of the red-light district of Paris. Photo taken in 2016.
#12 Vertical Horizon #7
International flags hung on top of a market street in Kowloon. Photo taken in 2011.
#13 Vertical Horizon #108
This office building is located in the new business districts recently developed in Hong Kong. Some floors on the higher part of the building are connecting the 2 sides of the structure. Photo taken in 2016.
#14 Vertical Horizon #101
During the night the light from the city is reflected on the clouds passing giving to the sky its Orange/Purple hue. The U-shape structure of this photo is actually half of a bigger public housing estate built in H-shape, in Hong Kong. Photo taken in 2016.