Eye-Popping Photographs of Hong Kong High-Rise Apartment Buildings


With a population of over 7 million people packed into an area of 426 square miles, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world. As with other places where development cannot expand horizontally, apartment buildings tend to get taller and taller in order to provide living space for all the inhabitants.

German photographer Michael Wolf decided to capture this population density through a series of photographs studying the architecture of these high rises. The project is titled “Architecture of Density.”

The photographs offer a closeup view, turning the buildings into mesmerizing patterns of edges, windows, balconies, and air conditioning systems. In most of the photographs, the buildings completely fill up the frame, and the repetition is disorienting.














The photographs have been published as a hardcover book. Here’s what the description says:

Stunning and sobering, the photographs of high-rise apartment buildings in Hong Kong by German photographer Michael Wolf reveal his personal fascination with life in mega-cities. Having lived there for several years, Wolf began to document Hong Kongs extreme development and complex urban dynamics, and how these factors play into the relationships between public and private space, anonymity and individuality, in one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. His close-up view takes the repetitive facades and colourful palettes out of their architectural context, instead offering urban patterns.

You can find more photographs from this series (and larger versions of these) over on Wolf’s website.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Nienke!

Image credits: Photographs by Michael Wolf and used with permission

  • Michael Della Polla

    Wow. How surreal. Love how he lined everything up!

  • Mansgame

    So did he use a tilt shift or straightened everything out in post?

  • Will

    Given you can see above and below some of the balconies on at least some of the photos above, I’d suggest he did things the old-fashioned way by using his feet, maybe some stairs and the odd lift in neighbouring buildings to elevate his shooting position. ;)

  • tiredofit123

    Oh the humanity…………….

  • random

    looking at the picture on the main page as I scrolled, I actually thought it was an error due to the browser screwing up the image then realized that was the actual picture! hahaha

  • gabe sturdevant

    Could you imagine if the elevator broke?

  • Burnin Biomass

    Great images… but they make me feel depressed as hell.

  • Jake

    Try quickly scrolling the page up and down. Trippy fun!

  • Zos Xavius

    These are quite lovely. A very worthy post!

  • Nienke

    You are very much welcome, thanks for posting! The series has left a great impression on me :)

    His other projects are quite awesome too, but not as incredible as this one..

  • Leonardo Abreu


  • Alfonso

    I can’t imagine that D:

  • Banksy

    When I visited Shanghai in 2006, our guide told us that the law required apartment buildings to have elevators only if they were at least 8 stories tall. I’d hate to live on the top floor of a 7-story building!

  • Ed

    Did anyone notice the bamboo scaffolding? It is amazing too.

  • Doug Earl

    I lived on the 23rd floor in Hong Kong. Heavy rain tore the roof off the elevator shaft and the elevators didn’t run for two days. My wife arrived to join me in HK that day. We carried all her luggage and stuff up the stairs. Three separate trips. Imagine, indeed.

  • eraserhead12

    Where’s Waldo?

  • sam

    Amazing…..there r no distortion at alll

  • Kaleidoskop

    Photography apart, what would be important to consider is how this extreme development and complex urban dynamics
    play into the relationships between public and private space, anonymity
    and individuality?

  • Audrey Bergner

    Whoaaa, I could not live in Hong Kong!

  • Matias Gonua

    Same thing happened to me!

  • Arjun

    I live in india which is future hong kong…fuck the population over here is growing day by day so fast…though countries like china india brazil are developing so well but quality of life is going worst..

  • corey zwegers

    I love these.

  • Swade

    There are probably large amounts of studies on that topic and related topics.

  • Chung Dha Lam

    I have to say I live in Hong Kong but those images are totally photoshopped, I have never seen any places that got so many building so close up that you can see into other peoples homes. We do have tall buildings but there be allot of space between them and will see either sky or mountains in the background.

  • Brook

    I believe these are photoshopped, also, and I’m surprised that that fact is not mentioned in the article. If you look at his webpage, it does not mention any manipulation, but the “scout shots” for this body of work, are much less sensational. I think this would be better described as photo illustration.

  • Jonathan

    In HK they say: “Oh the humidity”

  • Nik

    So finally we aka humanity is reaching the level of Wild termites & there huge colonies…

  • Nik

    Sins dude sins…. he he LOL sry

  • Nik

    Language dude language, I am indian too.. But hey f*cking the population as you said, will only fuel the growth :P ;)

  • CCC

    I thought there was something wrong with my browser loading images:P

  • Ewerton Conde Da Matta Machado

    God forbid!

  • OnyxE

    The photos are great but certainly show an ugly way to live. If I had to live in that unnatural environment I don’t think I’d bother. I need nature.

  • BklynPigeon

    Boring, like most German Photography.