Monday, February 18, 2019

Normal posting schedule resumes tomorrow

I'm sorry for drought of posts lately! I was in Asia for a couple weeks for work and am still trying to catch up. However, I did get to take a detour and see two very interesting places--Macau and Hong Kong.

Macau is the most densely populated county (technically a S.A.R. of China) on the planet with 73,350 people per square mile. That is basically triple the density of New York and quadruple that of San Francisco. What is interesting is that most of Macau is not super tall--there are only 20 skyscrapers in the whole country (buildings 492 ft or taller). Most of the buildings were 3-8 stories with retail on the ground floor.

Hong Kong on the other hand has the largest number of skyscrapers anywhere with 353 buildings over 492 feet tall. It also has thousands of "San Francisco" height high-rises, some of them 5-6 times wider than what you would see in the US. It was one of the cleanest, safest, and best-organized cities I have ever been too. It has one of if not the best subway system in the world and most trips cost $2. Also--sit down for this--it has one of the lowest rates of homelessness of any large city. The homeless rate is 0.02% in Hong Kong versus 0.5% in San Jose. Like San Jose, real estate prices are sky high and the weather is warm most of the year, yet somehow we have four times as many homeless as a city of 8 million with insane density and many public spaces.

So, I got to see two stereotypes dispelled first hand. 1.) You don't need a lot of super tall buildings to create density and a critical mass of people 2.) Density does not necessarily equal chaos, traffic, crime, and homelessness.

I'm happy to see there are many San Jose projects about to break ground or are recently proposed and I'll post about them over the next couple of weeks. If we do things right, it IS possible to increase density and quality of life at the same time!

Senado Square in Macau

View from the 110th floor of the ICC, tallest building in Hong Kong


  1. Please watch the BBC series "World's Busiest Cities". It has 4 episodes: Hong Kong, Mexico City, Moscow, and Delhi. The Hong Kong does show all of the high rises but it also shows the downside. It shows some families putting pods in the living room of an apartment where the parents sleep in one pod while the uncle sleeps in a pod above them.

    They then show a dishwasher who lives in what they the "Cages". It is about 6 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet. They are 3 high and they are all lined up in a hallway. About 200000 people live like this in Hong Kong.

    I've only watched the Hong Kong and Mexico City episodes so far but it is a very interesting series.

  2. Wish San Jose would have high rises all over the city and would make the city cool.

  3. It's all about appropriate density. Oh, and not building all over the damn foothills.