Close to Home

Derek Man


Hong Kong

Close to Home looks at the housing market in Hong Kong, exploring the lives of those caught in the struggle between the human need for shelter and the commercial need for growth – a situation that resonates worldwide.

Having lived in the UK for 12 years, the work also can be viewed from the perspective of an expatriate returning to his homeland to record how rapidly the Hong Kong landscape is changing.

From a family of four living in one room, to middle-aged men residing in “coffin homes” no bigger than a closet, the lack of affordable housing is forcing Hong Kong’s residents to live in substandard environments. While the government estimates some 200,000 people live in these cramped spaces, research by Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) suggests the number could be much higher.

Alongside the underprivileged, the work also considers the other extreme end of the spectrum, as well as what lies in-between. Most of the scenes photographed were in Kowloon, in inner city areas where sub-divided flats and grand, new developments often share the same street. The project aims to reflect the context of this world of new builds, multi-million pound flats and estate agents – how this all happens under the same roof of the city.

By showing the up-and-coming private estates, the oldest and newest social housing, showrooms displaying the perfect flats, and the gates behind which ultra wealthy homes sit, the work weaves together a vision of a housing future that is recognisable globally, placing the lives of the people caught in this tension of the commodification of homes back into the wider social context.

Exhibited at Open Eye Gallery 7 April – 18 June 2017 as part of LOOK/17 Liverpool International Photography Festival.

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  • Rooftop Flat, To Kwa Wan

  • Subdivided Flat, Sham Shui Po

  • Kau Wa Keng Old Village, Kwai Chung

  • Showroom, Kowloon Bay

  • “For Sale – Panoramic Seaview”, Ma On Shan

  • “Coffin Rooms”, Mong Kok

  • Yau Yat Chuen, Kowloon Tong

  • Subdivided Flat, Sham Shui Po

  • Choi Hung Estate, Ngau Chi Wan

  • Subdivided Flat, Sham Shui Po

  • Flat for Sale, Wu Kai Sha

  • Subdivided Flat, Sham Shui Po

  • Subdivided Flat, Sham Shui Po

  • Kowloon City

  • Subdivided Flat, Sham Shui Po

  • Property Roadshow, Sha Tin

  • “Coffin Apartment”, Mong Kok

  • Whampoa

  • Subdivided Flat, Sham Shui Po

  • Dusk, Sham Shui Po