Photos of Hong Kong’s skyline show a city dominated by gleaming skyscrapers and curtains of glass.
Intricate panoramas of Hong Kong's disappearing buildings
But for much of the city, life is lived a little lower to ground level, in walk-up buildings known as “tong lau” – densely-packed tenements, marked by shops on the ground floor and apartments above.
But increasingly, these buildings have been earmarked by the government and property companies for demolition, followed by redevelopment. They may look unique – and are often homes for hundreds of families – but they don’t bring in the big bucks.
And so Hong Kong photographer Stefan Irvine has set out to record and memorialize these buildings in his project, “Hong Kong’s Disappearing Tong Lau: A Panoramic Perspective.”
Instead of snapping a photo of these buildings, Irvine has stitched together multiple images to capture an entire city block in a single, densely packed frame.
It's a time-consuming process. And given that more and more such old buildings are facing the wrecking ball, the project will remain a work in progress.
“We certainly plan to continue with this project, documenting as many tong lau buildings as possible,” says Irvine. “Perhaps one day, the work will even serve as an archive for future generations with an interest in conservation.”
Check out our gallery of Stefan Irvine’s images above, and don't forget to zoom in.