I’ve spent enough time in Hong Kong to fully explore the topic of life in a hyper dense environment. There’s one school of thought that says compact highrise living and super efficient shared public services like transit are the most ecological form of urbanism. In theory per capital resource use should be quite low relative to the high level of economic development and world class standard of living. Compressing the human population into a small area also liberates more territory for the natural world. That would put a place like Hong Kong near the top in terms of “green” cities.
However, there’s another school that says these concentrated vertical cities are no more efficient than suburban sprawl when you do the math and include all the distant supply chains and externalities. Local efficiency is made possible by resource depletion elsewhere. Concentrated population also leads to dependence on complex systems for basic daily needs and a fair amount of vulnerability if anything ever goes wrong.
I filmed two short interviews in Hong Kong to demonstrate the pros and cons of this living arrangement. My friend Kirsten Dirksen at faircompanies.com edited both stories. I have my own personal conclusions about density that I’ll elaborate upon in future blog posts, but for now I’ll let you all get a feel for Hong Kong through these two very different videos. Give them both a look.