In first-world nations, most people aspire to own their own three-to-four-bedroom home, complete with a yard, possibly a pool, and plenty of space for animals and children to run around in. In Hong Kong, residents — regardless of their age — are lucky if they can afford a so-called “coffin cubicle,” where they have barely enough room to move around in, let alone live.
Even though the United Nations condemned the cage-like apartments, the 15-120-square-foot (roughly 1.5-12 m²) abodes are in high demand. This is because Hong Kong has a population of nearly 7.5 million! As a result, some 200,000 people still live in the tiny apartments, according to the Society for Community Organization.
Benny Lam is a former tenant of a “coffin cubicle.” As he told National Geographic, he created the photo series “Trapped” to expose the suffocating local dwellings many call “home” in Hong Kong. Recalling a time when he lived in a tiny abode, he said, ”That day, I came home and cried.”
Lam wrote on his Facebook page: “You may wonder why we should care, as these people are not a part of our lives. 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.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many who live in the cell-like apartments have fallen on hard times, such as Wong Tat-ming. Aged 63, the elderly gentleman has to live in one of the tiny apartments because he developed scerlosis in his leg and is now unable to drive a taxi. Every month, he pays approximately $307 (HK$2,400) to live in an 18-square-feet dwelling.
The artist said that “from cooking to sleeping, all activities take place in these tiny spaces.” Following are 10+ haunting photos from his series which, hopefully, will inspire you to care about the reality hundreds of thousands exist in each day:
Images Credit: Benny Lam