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A unique record of life in Kowloon Walled City, before its demolition in 1993 the most densely populated place on the planet.
A unique record of life in Kowloon Walled City, before its demolition in 1993 the most densely populated place on the planet.
1,303 backers pledged £84,817 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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£84,817

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Please help Greg Girard and Ian Lambot complete the new edition of their book about life in Kowloon Walled City.

Well, what an adventure it has been. Twenty-five years ago and more, when Greg Girard and I first visited Kowloon Walled City to take photographs (each for our own reasons as we hadn’t met at this stage), little did we imagine that within five years or so we would end up publishing City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City. Even less did we imagine that the book would remain in print for nearly 20 years, becoming in the process the book of record for this remarkable community.

But here we are, working together again to produce City of Darkness Revisited, an all-new edition that will combine the best of the original book with several new sections that will fill in some of the gaps and bring the story up to date. We will explore the City’s dramatic architectural evolution from a near bare site in 1945 to a 17-storey megalith housing over 33,000 people at the time of its clearance. And we will explain the City’s unique legal and political status – under two jurisdictions but effectively managed by neither – and how this coloured every aspect of life there.

A third theme will delve into the myths and realities of the Triads’ activities within the City and how these might – or might not – have been effectively policed. And finally we will describe how the influence of the Walled City has spread into popular culture worldwide, and how this has allowed interest in the City – either as myth or physical reality – to flourish. And all will be illustrated by new documents, drawings and photographs that have come to light over the past 20 years, allowing us to explain these aspects of the City in unprecedented detail. Please visit our website at www.cityofdarkness.co.uk to find out much, much more. 

For those who would like to know a little more about how the Walled City worked from an architectural perspective, and have 10 minutes to spare, you might be interested to check out the video below. This slipped past us when we were researching this new edition, and I am grateful to one of our backers, Lisa Atkinson, for pointing it out to us. We will be finding out a little more about it and who put it together over the coming days and will add a post about it on the website soon. Thanks Lisa!

https://vimeo.com/58021754

Published by Watermark Publications (UK) Limited, the book will be hardbound with around 350 photographs set out over some 300 pages, measuring 27cms or 10.6 inches square. It will be printed in China in late April and is due to be launched in Hong Kong in early June, with publication and distribution worldwide following in July. Shown below is a selection of some of the layouts and more will be added to the website over the coming weeks.

Risks and challenges

With two years of research behind us, most of the text and photographs – both new and old – are in place and the design of the book is now in progress. There are still a couple of interviews to be translated and a few more images to be sourced, but we hope to go to print at the end of April, ready for publication worldwide in July. Our aim is to produce the book to the highest possible standards so there is always the possibility of a slight delay, but we will stay in contact with all our backers and everyone will receive regular updates.

We do hope you can help. Thank you.

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FAQ

  • There is no easy answer I am afraid. Nearly all of the ‘architectural’ images will reappear, though many in different sizes and formats. With the ‘people’ photographs, the earlier book tended to be quite dense, using multiple images of the same scene or location. In this instance, a lot of the secondary images (those that were used small in the first edition) have been removed to allow the very best images to be used larger and thereby with greater clarity. There are also a number of new photographs, mostly by Greg but also a few of mine that were never included in the first edition, and of course there is also a considerable amount of entirely new material detailing the City’s growth and development from 1949 to its demolition in 1993/4. I hope this helps.

    Last updated:
  • A few people have also asked if this means the books are personalised in any way. Sadly not, the signed copies will not be made out to anyone in particular; it only means all of our Kickstarter backers will be listed at the end of the book as they already are on the www.cityofdarkness.co.uk website. The list is updated daily, so go to the ‘Subscribers’ section to find your name now.

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  • As I have explained to those who sent messages, I have been a publisher for nearly 30 years and my first love is for books, so for the moment I am concentrating on that. But like all publishers I am aware of the digital revolution in publishing. I am also aware of the immense amount of material we have gathered that won’t make its way into the book, including numerous recorded interviews – not least those we interviewed for the first edition of the book. We are also at a point where we can still interview people who remember the City in its infancy. At one level, the website is already intended as a repository for all things Kowloon Walled City, but there is a very real possibility of doing so much more. I have not been overly impressed by the few digital versions of books such as ours I have seen so far and would like to explore the possibility of doing something very much better. But that is another project entirely. Watch out on Kickstarter – we might be back seeking your support for an entirely new adventure!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £6 or more About $10

    Approximately US$10. Receive long-lasting thanks and acknowledgement on our website dedicated to all things Kowloon Walled City.

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    Approximately US$25. Receive long-lasting thanks and acknowledgement as above, as well as a 5x7 inch archival pigment print of your choosing selected from the website.

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    Approximately US$80. Receive a copy of the book with your name acknowledged in both the book and on the website. Includes free delivery in the UK, Hong Kong and North America.

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    Approximately US$125. Receive a signed copy of the book and your acknowledgement as above, together with an 8x10 inch archival pigment print of your choosing selected from the website. Includes delivery in the UK, Hong Kong and North America.

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    Approximately $160. Receive two copies of the book with your name acknowledged as above. For larger orders, add £48 per copy and send us a message to confirm your name and the number of books, and we will send out accordingly. Includes free delivery in the UK, Hong Kong and North America.

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    Pledge £108 or more About $180

    Approximately $180. As above but includes delivery charges to the rest of the world. For larger orders, add £48 for each extra book and send us a message to confirm name and number.

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    Pledge £120 or more About $200

    Approximately US$200. Receive a signed copy of the book, your acknowledgement and an 8x10 inch archival pigment print of your choosing selected from the website, all enclosed in a presentation ‘clamshell’ case. Includes delivery in the UK, Hong Kong and North America.

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    Pledge £135 or more About $224

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    Pledge £240 or more About $399

    Approximately US$400. Receive a signed copy of the book with your name acknowledged in the book and on the website, together with a signed 16x20 inch limited edition print. All prints are by Ian Lambot and are restricted to editions of 50 each and will be subject to availability. Includes delivery in the UK, Hong Kong and North America.

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    Approximately US$500. A signed copy of the book, your acknowledgement and a signed 16x20 inch limited edition print as above, but with the book presented in the special ‘clamshell’ case. Includes delivery in the UK, Hong Kong and North America.

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    Pledge £360 or more About $599

    Approximately $600. Presented in a printed, heavyweight card slipcase, a signed copy of the special limited edition reprint of the original hardback book. Add same amount again for multiple order and send us a message to confirm name and number.

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    Pledge £450 or more About $748

    Approximately US$750. Presented in a special slipcase, receive a signed copy of the new book together with a special reprint of the original hard-bound book, also signed. The latter will be printed in a limited edition of just 480 copies and will never be printed again. Includes delivery in the UK, Hong Kong and North America.

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Funding period

- (36 days)