Life in Boxes

Nguyen Thanh Hue 


Faced with high living costs in the capital of Hanoi, migrant workers from adjacent provinces opt for makeshift boarding houses built by local residents. In a tight space that can accommodate only a bed and a few necessities, each family figures their own way to give their temporary residence a homely feel, be it placing a flat board upon some bricks to make a bed or taping a wedding photo on an unplastered wall. Without a window, the only connection between the room and the world is the entrance door. Looking from outside, I felt as if being in front of a TV screen, where every living activity was contained inside a frame, each frame having their own space, characters, and stories. Though spontaneously built up with impermanent properties, these spaces have existed for decades, along with the rapid growth of low-income worker communities. As time goes by, perhaps such spaces have become a home, not only a dwelling place but also an anchor for their lengthened stay in this city. 


Nguyen Thanh Hue is a graduate from the Academy of Journalism and Communication majoring in Photojournalism. Her focus is documentary photography and human-centered issues, specifically private living spaces.