Life inside Kowloon Walled City, the most densely populated place on earth, was far from easy before the chaotic cluster of interconnected high-rise buildings was demolished 20 years ago.
Around 33,000 people lived in the overcrowded Hong Kong slum, which was blighted by poverty, organised crime, including drug dealing, gambling and prostitution, poor sanitation and inadequate services.Populated by families, business owners, drug addicts and gang members, the settlement was essentially lawless due to a territorial dispute between China and British Hong Kong, but both sides agreed in the 1980s to demolish it and replace it with a park.The former Chinese military site became a sprawling urban settlement after Japanese forces retreated during World War II and squatters moved in.Over the following decades it fell under the grip of the Triads, who were eventually forced out in the 1970s, and was notorious for brothels, casinos and opium dens as it lagged behind the rest of Hong Kong, although crime rates dropped in its later years.Before Kowloon Walled City was finally demolished in 1994, photographers Greg Girard and Ian Lambot spent five years capturing jaw-dropping images of daily life within the six-acre site - from children playing on rooftops to heroin addicts shooting up on the street.
Kowloon Walled City, in Hong Kong, had more than 300 high-rise apartments and an estimated 33,000 people crammed within the siteFamilies with young children, who played on top of apartment buildings, lived among gang members and drug addicts in the slumThe settlement was essentially lawless due to a territorial dispute between China and Hong Kong, but both sides agreed to demolish itFood processors freely admitted that they moved into the city to benefit from the low rents and to seek refuge from health inspectorsA postman ducks under pipes and cables as he delivers mail to residents who lived along a rat-infested alley covered in rubbishGiven the density of the six-acre site, residents had no immediate access to greenery and had to retreat to rooftops for sunlightEmployee Kwok Tsang Ming ladles a batch of fried fishballs into baskets in a small factory off Kwong Ming StreetLaw Yu Yi, aged 90, lived in a small and exceptionally humid third-floor flat off Lung Chun First Alley with her 68-year-old daughter-in-lawThe former Chinese military site became an urban settlement after Japanese forces retreated during World War II and squatters moved inAirline passengers had a stunning view of the walled city when the flew into Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport, which closed in 1998A resident upset with compensation protests on the pavement in front of Walled City during clearance operation by policeResidents of Kowloon Walled City had access to almost every kind of business or service, including hair salons and doctors\Hui Tung Choy operated a noodle business in the home he shared with his wife and two young daughters, who played in the workshopLee Pui Yuen's store doubled as his family's home. A shop was located at the front while a bedroom was on the other side of a partitionBecause the family lived in the shop, it remained open throughout the day and evening until Pui Yuen and his wife went to bedSupermarket owner Chan Pak, who sold everything from string to beer, had seven pet cats when this portrait was takenOvens used for the roasting of pigs (left) raised temperatures inside the city. At right, a worker carries buckets of eels at a fishball factoryA resident uses the only remaining natural ground well (left). An addict injects heroin into his leg (right)Kowloon was under the Triads' grip at one time and was notorious for brothels and drug dens as it lagged behind the rest of Hong KongIn the 1980s, authorities proceeded with plans to demolish the walled city and work eventually got underway in 1993 following evictions
The rooftops of Kowloon Walled City's high-rise buildings were covered with dozens of TV aerials and cablesMany buildings only received a sliver of daylight every day, including the Tin Hau Temple, which was constructed in 1951Photographer Greg Girard captured jaw-dropping images of daily life within the six-acre site, including children playing on rooftopsResidents lived in cramped quarters and used their balconies to store belongings (left). At right, rubbish-filled alley with little sunlightMany of the residents protested the evictions and said they were happy living in the squalid conditions, but they were forced out
The government spent $2.7billion Hong Kong dollars in compensation and evacuations started in 1991. They were completed in 1992Clocks, family portraits and a calendar are displayed in a family home (left). The city (right, at night) had a dystopian appearance