20 Jan 2020 - 15 Mar 2020
10:00 - 22:00
We find ourselves in a vertiginous city draped effortlessly over mountainous islands, spread along silver green seas. The restless waters churn with the propellers of a thousand vessels, some gliding from very far away, but most chugging from island to island; fishing trawlers, ferries, superyachts, containers ships, sampans. Waterborne trade gave this city its life. Rising from the sea, brash, and pulsing with life, humanity is crammed into its spaces, its streets at lunch time, its elevated walkways in the evening, and its homes at night. This is a city of superlatives: the densest, the most unequal, with the longest living people.
Every place is unique, but Hong Kong is more unique than most.
All cities benefit from enabling proximity of services and the served, of producers and consumers, of workers and jobs, of friends with one another. But living and working close together also brings competition for resources – space, fresh air, clean water, access to sunlight and amenities – and inevitably, it also brings conflict. The greater the numbers of people and tighter the space, the more creative are the designs needed to prevent the disbenefits overwhelming the benefits, and to enable citizens to continue enjoying the city.
In these heady days and nights of 2019, can we stop for a moment, and together, imagine, what a new Hong Kong could be, healed?
How can we flourish together again, in this small territory?
We ask these questions with proposals and interventions at scales ranging from that of the settlement to a piece of furniture. These cannot fully articulate the remedies to get us there, but they can be the sites of critique of what has gone wrong, and visions of the place Hong Kong could become. Architecture, just like art, is a device for helping us make sense of the past, present and future of places and practices. Architecture, even if fictional, is a spatial mediator of new yet unforged social realities.
1 Shek Tong Tsui
A distance is growing between older and younger inhabitants of this city. Yet, they represent each other’s past and future. At Shek Tong Tsui, where renewed city is still founded on ancient practices, we imagine bringing these groups for activities in shared spaces, to recall memories and create new ones, together.
2. Sai Wan
At the Sai Wan Public Cargo Working Area, sunsets meet water, barges and cargoes of bamboo, concrete blocks, containers, barrels. These elements, still working, make an iconic but nostalgic image of Hong Kong. Here, a Charging Station will fuel the capturing of the ‘here and now’ for many ‘theres and thens’ of ‘Hong Kong Instagram City’.
3. An Imagined Neighbourhood
This un-named place is full of towers that are marred, or embellished (depending on your point of view), by extrusions that stretch from them in many directions, as ‘collective living spaces’, ‘spaces of co-existence with nature’ and simply, as ‘efficient modular housing’. Such extrusions have existed as urban forms throughout history. In this future Hong Kong, extrusions express and instrumentalise liveability, identity and sustainability.
4 Causeway Bay
The Museum is an active deposit of all forms of societal knowledge. In Causeway Bay, a Museum becomes the mechanism for distilling visions, embodying a dual role in displaying artefacts and transmitting social knowledge. Its functions are to collect, interpret and show artefacts of various types of artistic, scientific or cultural significance for the public education.
5 Yuen Long
A structuralist urbanity reclaims and transforms brownfield Yuen Long, weaving nature and city, just like their predecessor new towns of late twentieth century Hong Kong did, when the railway spread fingers of development on reclaimed coasts and quiet valleys, between the re-forested country parks. Twenty-first century Yuen Long is similarly bustling culturally infused place, but one built on social justice and environmental health.
6 King’s Road
Between 1956 and 1962, the colonial Hong Kong government removed restrictions on building density, prompting the development of high-rise, massively dense residential blocks: Montane Mansion, Metropole Building, and so forth. They haunt our cyberpunk future, their ultra-density accidentally preserving them from redevelopment.