German photographer Michael Wolf has been living in Hong Kong since 1994. His work documents the world around him, and recently that has meant photographing China’s “megacities,” which house up to 25 million people, usually in a densely populated area. His photos of high rises, from a series called The Architecture of Density, appear abstract and inhuman, the dead exoskeletons of thousands of lives. Wolf told VICE in an interview published today that these surreal cityscapes are harder to appreciate from the inside:

…if you talk to people superficially, they always say their apartment complexes are so convenient. You take the elevator and you have a shopping mall, a subway station, and a school. But if you get to know them and dig deeper, every single person would like to live on a smaller scale.

Wolf’s other projects similarly deal with human beings’ ingenuity in the face of strange circumstances, like his photos of 100 10′ x 10′ rooms in a Hong Kong building set to be demolished. But Wolf is far from pessimistic about humanity. As he told VICE, “The population is very good at compartmentalizing problems. It’s their creativity and resourcefulness that they bring to these conditions. It’s making do, and that’s what I’m interested in.”

Check out Michael Wolf’s website for more of his photography.