Saturday, July 14, 2007
The walled city
Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]
It's difficult to explain just how densely populated this city is. The kind of image most often used to tell this story is typically a people-choked streetscape. And not to worry, I've got plenty of those in my archives. But it was this image, taken at 5:44 a.m., that will forever sear the incredible density of this place into my brain.
I remember sitting in my quiet perch on the very top floor of the hotel after taking this picture, trying to understand how such an architectural monstrosity could have been conceived. In the end, I gave up: I doubt any of this was a clean sheet design. It was likely added to in haphazard fashion over the years as needs grew and available space shrank. It was a set of constraints that the average North American likely would never understand. Which was why I was glad I got to witness something like this first-hand.
At that moment, I felt my understanding of the broader world expand just a little bit more. One doesn't judge this kind of discovery, after all. Rather, one must understand how it came to be.
Your turn: What do you think when you see a building like this?