It has a population of nearly 7.5 million and very small developable land remaining, Hong Kong has grown the least affordable housing market, and it notoriously being called ‘coffin cubicles’. United Nations have tagged these nightmarish cage-apartments as “an insult to human dignity” but according to the Society for Community Organisation, for about 200,000 people it’s still the only place to live.
“That day, I came home and cried,” Benny Lam talked to National Geographic, describing his experience of photographing said living conditions. With his series “Trapped,” Lam seeks to show off the suffocating local homes that stand outside the reach of Hong Kong’s dazzling neon lights.
“You may wonder why we should care, as these people are not a part of our lives,” Lam wrote on his Facebook page. “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.”
“From cooking to sleeping, every activity takes place in these small spaces,” said Lam. To build the ‘coffin cubicles,’ flats are normally illegally subdivided into 15 – 120-square-foot (roughly, 1,5-12 m²) ‘apartments’.