dead space by finbarr fallon documents the hyperdense vertical graveyards of hong kong

dead space by finbarr fallon documents the hyperdense vertical graveyards of hong kong

british architectural photographer and designer, finbarr fallon, has turned his attention to hong kong for his latest photo series titled ‘dead space’, which depicts the hyperdense graveyards of the city. as a response to extreme urban density, combined with chinese feng shui tradition, the graveyards occupy the city’s steep mountainsides overlooking the coastal shorelines. rippling outwards and upwards, the visual rhythm of the terraced gravestones presents a serene yet uneasy landscape, whose concrete tiers are grafted onto existing topographies.

entire mountains are carved into vertical graveyards

all images © finbarr fallon



captured using telephoto lenses, the 12 images were shot by fallon over five years between 2015-2019. the series showcases the sublime monumentality of these necro-geographies, through images which compress their built form into monolithic geometries. juxtaposed against backgrounds of towering skyscrapers, the photographs highlight the spatial contestation apparent in a city where the living and the departed are so intimately close.

monolithic geometries



burial plots within these high-rise graveyards are extremely costly, with prices in many private cemeteries eclipsing those of the local residential market on a per square foot basis. financially out of reach to many and given increasing space constraints, the hong kong government encourages cremation and the use of columbaria now, thus these graveyards stand as a spatio-temporal anomaly in terms of being historical remnants and an interface between eternal life and modern-day market forces.

families visiting graves must hike long distances up the steep terrain

spatial contestation in a city where the living and the departed lie side by side

graveyards rise to the height of neighbouring 60-storey towers

thousands of tombstones cover a steep hillside

a cemetery towers above a residential district on hong kong island

terraced tiers are held up by huge concrete retaining walls

expanding upwards, ‘concretized’ terrain awaits further development into burial terraces

concrete contours express the underlying topography of the mountainsides

tombs flow from the top of the mountain down towards the shore

concrete is sprayed onto the rocky terrain as a cemetery prepares to expand further upwards



project info:


project name: ‘dead space’

photography: finbarr fallon


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynne myers | designboom

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