UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Verticality Photo Competition - winner announced

16 August 2019

Congratulations to Alexander Macfarlane from The Bartlett Development Planning Unit for submitting the winning entry in our 2019 photography competition

Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong

Our inaugural photography competition was open to entries from UCL staff and students on the theme of ‘urban verticality’. As one of our Priority Areas, this theme responds to an increasing questioning of the flat and horizontal ways cities have historically tended to be represented and understood.

Of his winning entry, Macfarlane said, 'With a constrained geography and a lack of space, Hong Kong has long been the archetypal vertical city. In the northern section of Kowloon, away from the main tourist sights and across the bay from Hong Kong Island, the comparatively low-rise though densely populated district of Sham Shui Po contrasts with the newer high-rises that have sprung up around it, as across the rest of the city.'

The judging panel comprised of Dr Andrew Harris (Co-Director, UCL Urban Laboratory), Dr Clare Melhuish (Director, UCL Urban Laboratory), Prof Jose Torero Cullen (Head of Department, UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering), and Sidra Ahmed (PhD student, UCL Geography).

Second place went to Talia Clarick from the Department of Geography, for her photo of "The Bridge Apartments" in New York City, which sit directly atop the busy Trans-Manhattan Expressway. The judges commented that the photo 'disables the viewer from establishing the full magnitude of the building, yet the visible floors and the dimensions of the windows provide a sense of the enormity of the structure. The traffic light on amber opens the question of how adequate a building of this nature is, whilst leaving it to the viewer to decide.'

Third place was awarded to Jonah Rudlin of The Bartlett Development Planning Unit. Their photo is a record of a multi-storey conversation between the residents of an apartment block in Templehof, Berlin. 'Only a small minority of the submissions we recieved showed or implied any kind of social activity', said the judging panel. 'We really like the more ordinary qualities of the vertical scene here and the social interactions between above and below, all counterbalanced by the presence of the satellite dishes pointing as if dismissively away and hinting at more international realms of vertical connection.'

The winner recieves a £100 prize. Below is a gallery of the runner-up entries. A number of other submissions to the competition are available to view in our Flickr album.