It is no secret that rent is expensive in Hong Kong, in fact, with little developable land remaining, the Special Administrative Region’s housing market is one of the world’s priciest.
Soaring rental costs have forced hundreds of thousands of people into sub-divided units where the toilet and stove share a room, small squatter sheds and the grimly named ‘coffin cubicles.’ According to National Geographic, roughly 200,000 people, including 40,000 kids, reside in accommodations under 100 square feet, with some living in spaces as small as 15 square feet.
Over the course of several years, photographer Benny Lam set out to photograph these cramped and undoubtedly unique flats, the result is a photo series appropriately titled ‘Trapped.’
Humbling, enlightening and, at times, depressing, the series shines a light on the side of Hong Kong that often gets forgotten, with coverage of the city more often than not focusing on luxury fashion and tech brands, and the city’s standing as a financial hub.
Hong Kong’s housing issues are a topic that’s clearly close to Lam’s heart, with the photographer posting the following message on his Facebook page:
“You may wonder why we should care, as these people are not a part of our lives. They are exactly the people who come into your life every single day: they are serving you as the waiters in the restaurants where you eat, they are the security guards in the shopping malls you wander around, or the cleaners and the delivery men on the streets you pass through. The only difference between us and them is [their homes]. This is a question of human dignity.”
Here is a look at some of his shots:
Coffin cubicles are created when a landlord splits a flat into a myriad of coffin- and closet-sized rooms. National Geographic gives the example of a landlord modifying a 400-square-foot apartment to house 20 “double-decker beds,” which are then rented out for HKD2,000 per month.
'Trapped' is shortlisted for this year’s Prix Picket Awards.
[Images via Benny Lam, h/t National Geographic]