The ‘Coffin Cubicle’ Homes of Hong Kong

Tuesday August 28, 2018 Written by Sam

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Either Bill Gates was wearing the wrong prescription glasses when he remarked that the gap between the rich and poor was shrinking year by year or he’s not seen the ‘coffin cubicles’ of Hong Kong. Because these minuscule living spaces, also known as cage homes, are damning proof that the haves and the have-nots of this world remain pretty far removed from one another.

While similar disparities in living standards obviously exist around the world, Hong Kong photographer Benny Lam’s Trapped series focuses on the housing crisis in his hometown. Commissioned by not-for-profit organisation SoCO, Trapped reveals what’s hidden in the shadows of Hong Kong’s famous glitz and glamour: tens of thousands of people living in conditions so cramped that just looking at the photos induces a sense of claustrophobia.

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Historically, cage homes were made of wire mesh, but these days they’re more commonly built with wooden planks (hence their creepy new name). The average coffin cubicle measures a couple of square metres; essentially it’s a sealed bed space. Up to 20 coffin cubicles can be squeezed into a normal-sized, subdivided apartment; in some, it’s near-impossible to stand up.

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You can read more about Lam’s Trapped project over at National Geographic.