Posts categorized: Urban Planning

General, Urban Planning /

Housing Crisis in Hong Kong

housing, crisis, hong kong, architect, modular, avoid obvious, urban planning

What cause the Housing Crisis in Hong Kong?

We worked with Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Design Institute for Social Innovation on the issue of Hong Kong’s housing crisis. Below are some of the problems we learned and some of the solutions we discussed.

  1. Lack of Public Housing:There was a protest in 2003 against the government. The homeowner was and still is against the government to provide public housing. Since the protest, there was no new public housing built for a decade. It created a man-made shortage.
  2. Money: the rich home buyers are swiping all the available apartments as a way to hide their illegal saving. It is ongoing for the last decade. They buy apartments and sometimes don’t want to rent out the units. They don’t want the official record to show suspicious streams of income. If you look at the ratio of the number of apartments to the number of people in Hong Kong, there are plenty of apartment for every household. It is just that most of them are luxury apartments and currently many of them are empty.
  3. Land Policy: Hong Kong is a tax haven, there is no sales tax and the tax on income is low. The government makes all of its money by selling land to the developer. the higher the price, the more they make. With this policy, they will only generate luxury apartment. Who would build a cheap public housing when the land is so expensive?
  4. Jobs: the income gap between rich and poor is widening in Hong Kong. Back in the 1980s, it is possible to buy a house even if for a blue-collar worker. People could work in a factory and would still save enough for food and a place to live. Now, the income for the labor-intensive jobs is so low that these workers typically spent all of their income on food and rent. If there is no saving, there is simply no way for them to move upstream.
  5. Health: many homeless people and people in subdivided flat originally live in a nice family with a nice apartment. Due to their drug problems, marriage problems, family problems or social problems, they drifted away from this resource and couldn’t re-enter the workforce. Some of them were injured and created extra difficulty to continue their high skill job. Without a healthy body and mind, the only place they can afford is either subdivided flats or the street.
  6. Politics: Hong Kong has a lot of lands in the new territories, but they are controlled by the indigenous people. They often work with established developers to make luxury buildings rather than giving the land to the government to make public housing.
  7. Approval: Hong Kong acts very slow in terms of solving the housing crisis. They have elected officials who have all the tools to criticize a plan. It often takes years to resolve a deal regarding housing.
  8. Geography: Hong Kong does have lots of green and mountains. 70% of the land is zoned as a park and open space. New York and Hong Kong are about the same size, but clearly, it is more difficult to build buildings and infrastructure on a mountainous terrain.
  9. Lack of Voice: Hong Kong is very divided. People at the top and bottom has a clear disconnect. Many people are not reaching out for help when they are really in need of help.
  10. Cheaters: It has become a luxury status to qualify for social housing in the midst of a crisis. The young generation will tell their bosses to lower their salary so that they can qualify for the upper-income limit to get into social housing. People who have become richer will find ways to hide their cash so that they don’t have to move out of social housing. The list to get in continue to expand while the list to move out is very slow in clearing out.

New solutions to solve the housing crisis by The Chief Executive’s 2018 Policy Address:

  1. a new artificial island known as Lantau Tomorrow – it politically divided the society. Some people love it and some people hate it.
  2. converting factories into residential buildings – some issues are being addressed in terms of safety, health, and wellbeing.
  3. converting old government building into housing – several temporary apartments arrived this week
  4. building modular houses – Avoid Obvious Architects are involved in the design for one modular housing in Sham Shui Po.
  5. building a new social program to train people – there is a project called Light House. it trained people in need to get better jobs. they do provide apartment while people are being trained
  6. Getting “nice” homeowner to donate apartment to the rental program – also part of the Light House. they started by converting an old apartment people donated into rental units
  7. redeveloping the old neighborhood. they are actively taking down buildings in old areas to build more housing. The issue with that is also money. many tenants are either illegally occupying the building or they want to hold out until the compensation become very high.
  8. telling young people to move out of Hong Kong. They encourage people to look at the Greater Bay Area. They said Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau can now be their home by not limiting themselves to the city of Hong Kong.

 

housing, crisis, hong kong, architect, avoid obvious, vicky chan, sketch, drawings

Team:

Alfred Kwok – interior design

Angle Shih – social worker/Christian Concern For the Homeless Association

Bakkie Chan – social worker/SoCO

Charles Ho – real estate/HKCSS

Gordon Chick – social worker/SoCO

Karen Chan – urban planning

Paul Law – modular construction/Aluhouse Co. Ltd.

Sunnie Lau – architecture/SOSArchitecture Urban Design Limited

Vicky Chan – architecture/Avoid Obvious Architects

Wai Tung Ng – social worker/SoCp

 

Projects, Urban Planning /

E-sport Stadium

e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design

E-sport Stadium Research

We spent 2 weeks to study the phenomenon of e-sport and tournament of video games. We came up with a set of rules to guide the exterior and interior design of an e-sport stadium.

Exterior – Architecture + Landscape:

  1. E-sport can last a lot longer than real sport. Some e-games can go on for days. The landscape can become rest stations for the players and spectators. Landscape is no longer treated as a buffer zone like a park but rather an important feature to sustain a healthy e-game.
  2. Drone racing is often considered part of the e-sport. Landscape can have racing track for people of all ages and also remote-controlled device of all sizes.
  3. E-sport can be done with different number of players. Unlike a soccer game, flexibility is needed to accommodate a 1-on-1 game or a 100-on-100 game. Architecture must allow immediate expansion for additional seating and game playing area.
  4. VR, AR and MR tools are important around the architecture and landscape to provide mixed reality that can bring people in and out of the virtual world.
  5. The E-Stadium is meant to be multi-purpose. During off seasons, space will be used for team practice and training. The event space also serves promotional events such as new game and product announcements.

Interior – Stage Design + Game Design:

  1. Players in video games are different than players in real sports. They may not enjoy the cheering from their fans. The ability to isolate players and teams are important.
  2. Players will form teams of various size. They can battle each other with whatever number of players the game required. The seating needs to have ability to rearrange and light up to identify teams and groups.
  3. Spectators will be allowed to join the games. Unlike real sports, the spectators in e-sport can help to influence the result with their digital input. Stadium no longer separate spectators and performers. It is truly about their interactions.
  4. Gamers are obsessed with their status. Stage design with the concept of levitation can help to separate the winners from losers.

Graphics:

e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design e-sport, stadium, online, games, drone, players, video games, internet, AR, VR, MR, augmented reality, landscape, virtual reality, virtual, digital, electronic sports, battle, e-teams, next generation, future, avoid obvious, architects, architecture, urban design

Credits:

Gaming Advisers: KS Chan, Chi Tam

Architecture: Melissa Chan, Emily Manasc, Vicky Chan

Landscape: Richard Alomar

Structure: Erik Madsen, Madsen Engineering

Associate Architects: EJ LAD (Shenzhen)

Related Projects:

Horsetopia

Guiyang Sports Center

Urban Planning /

Inclusive City Planning 

Inclusive City Planning

Vicky Chan spoke at New Cities Summit in Songdo. He shared the stage with Vera Baboun, former Palestine Mayor and Fleur Pellerin, former French cultural minister. His ideas to make inclusive public spaces focused on

  1. Sports
  2. Education
  3. Interactive Design

Sports

It is a challenge to bridge the income gap in a city, but sports are proven to be an effective tool to bring people together. The making of Macombs Dam Park at the former site of Yankee Stadium has shown integrated sports for all ages. The mix provides an inclusive space for the Bronx community, while it serves as gathering space for people going to the Yankee games. The creative way to play with topography also helps to create sports for all seasons. The idea of sports can be extended into a year long experience when nature, creativity and imagination are combined.

Education

Vicky has conducted many children workshop on urban planning via Architecture for Children, but it is still a challenge to make those ideas acceptable to adults. The challenge is not so much about the quality of children’s ideas, but adult’s willingness to listen to our children. Vicky believed education is necessary on both ends. We have to continue to spread ideas about sustainable cities to children, while adults work hard to make sure city planning is about laying foundation for the future generation. It only makes sense if children get to decide their own future. One idea children have about public park is to design a chocolate factory, in which the park is made out of edible materials. The idea is wild but yet very practical and feasible. Why don’t we stop using plastic and adapt materials that are harmless to our children? Our willingness to open our minds to accept childish ideas are key for disruptive changes.

Interactive Design

Public involvement can’t always help to achieve design consensus, but it is very important to address opinions from the user’s perspective. Workshop has always been effective. Making the process interactive will also help to make an interactive outcome. A design that continues to evolve with public participation will not only keep us imaginative, but it is the most sustainable practice to allow our design to evolve. Our mobile shops design have shown that it is good for users and the environment to embrace evolution. If our public park can appear like the spontaneous village in Hong Kong, we will likely achieve the true timeless design.


General, Urban Planning /

Utopian City for Businesses

G107, Bao’an, Shenzhen, masterplan, city planning, sustainable, green, manufacturing, avoid obvious, tetra, architecture, planners, architects, aoarchitect, tetra-arch, connections, drone, highway, future, futuristic, carbon zero, carbon neutral, china, hong kong, pearl river delta, Baoan, autopilot, driverless, high speed, transit, multimodal, connections, sharing economy, co-working, shared, amenities, natural, nature, road, infrastructure, water cycle, water management, landscape, design, branding, engineering, marketing, drone-view, aerial, airport

How can we create an Utopian City using Collective Intelligence?

We conducted a world-wide survey about city planning. We wanted to find out how we can use collective intelligence to design an utopian city for businesses. Our final design can be seen here. Below are data collected.International, world, business, owner, city, planning, urban, design, architects, avoid obvious International, world, business, owner, city, planning, urban, design, architects, avoid obvious

G107, Bao’an, Shenzhen, masterplan, city planning, sustainable, green, manufacturing, avoid obvious, tetra, architecture, planners, architects, aoarchitect, tetra-arch, connections, drone, highway, future, futuristic, carbon zero, carbon neutral, china, hong kong, pearl river delta, Baoan, autopilot, driverless, high speed, transit, multimodal, connections, sharing economy, co-working, shared, amenities, natural, nature, road, infrastructure, water cycle, water management, landscape, design, branding, engineering, marketing, drone-view, aerial, airport

World Business Survey

Wijdène Kaabi, KAA Studio, Tunisia/London/Hong Kong

  • Minimize social polarity
  • Social Innovation: Citizen engagement / creativity / cohesion
  • Platform for dialogue and social diversity – compact (no social and special segregation – limit costs and the impact of transport
  • Space for ecological or environmental regeneration
  • Economic growth
  • Horizontal and vertical coordination (with other cities, connectivity)

Fran Parente, Fran Parente Photographer, Brazil/New York

The freedom to come and go with a good transportation system that doesn’t rely on car, the feeling of safeness. Also the mixed use and how you can live without leaving the surroundings of your neighborhood if you want. A good balance between nature and built environment providing leisure within minutes from their house/work.

On the business side, I would say that government sponsorship/incentives is a good way to attract new companies. Co working spaces for the creatives (free?). Less bureaucracy for businesses to open and run.

Benjamin Cox, The Artist, Belgium/Hong Kong/London

Connected: Efficient transportation with meaningful interaction during commute. Efficient digital connections. Shared vehicles including bikes, cars and subway to encourage interaction.

Vibrant: Localized gathering spaces to social. Green spaces combined with cultural programs like museums, bars and restaurant. Government to have open mindset and policy for young and innovative company. Government to hold sponsor programs to provide spaces, visa, funding and connections to new businesses.

Sustainable: good quality of air, waste management, health system. A hub for medical research with good hospitals and nearby universities for research.

Nelson Ng, Lost Magazine, Singapore/Shanghai/New York

It would be exciting for businesses and talented people if cities made it super easy for anyone to live and work there. This might include abolishing or relaxing visa requirements, equal treatment to anyone who came to work in the city (and not just favoring locals), and a super simple process to start any business. To take this even further, it would be cool if major cities around the world banded together to create their own form of identity or pass for startups, where this single city pass can give you access to London, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai or even Tokyo. With this pass, you could get access to facilities, free Wi-Fi or even basic accommodation and a simple office space for your work, making it easy for anyone to move between cities. Imagine if every city offered a free basic work space for any startup that would surely be inviting!!

Matthieu Maury, La Station, France/Hong Kong

  • Safe social environment
  • Liberty of thinking
  • City filled with people are willing to work to accomplish their dreams
  • Freedom to start a company
  • Low Government Tax
  • Administration/bureaucracy is too much involved in citizens life
  • Simplicity of life in HK
  • Being able to live in a 24/h city with the inherent stress
  • Possibility to work with different cultures
  • Ethnic Diversity
  • Digital and physical transportation to connect people to family and friends back home

Gordon Laplante, GCreate, Florida/New York

Free market layout vs controlled market

Designing creative and growth-inspired entrepreneur spaces has been a constant perplexing problem in my mind. The many spaces I have encountered have had varying strategies with a vast rage of success both on the long term global scale and the micro interactions. When bringing this to a city level it complicates the problem. Do you let the free market run wild and dictate the outline? Do you have a shared ownership between the market and an overlying “urban plan”? Or do you completely dictate the layout and allow businesses/individuals infill the spaces you have laid out?

We are a small startup and have hit some of these problems head on. As we are growing its been quite hard to find “reasonable” manufacturing spaces above 1k SF but less than 5k SF. This to me is the crux of the true innovation and startup spaces yet a huge void exists. We happen to be in an area of great tech growth and over the years we have seen a large shift from somewhat “shady” businesses to trendier tech. This has sort of left the new age tech manufacturers in limbo. We need a nice manufacturing space for our cool new product yet we need the basic amenities of any traditional manufacturing space. ie a loading dock and freight elevator access, the basic needs of a business who makes things.

Why am I diving into our very specific case? I feel the future of entrepreneur cities/developments relies on many cogs in the machine but not necessarily everything being tied into a pretty package. The free market will solve a portion due to demand yet framework is needed.

A city with product chain.

To truly allow for innovative entrepreneurial growth, you should incorporate a large portion of the entire product chain. I say a “portion” because to say the “whole chain” is a useless idealistic statement which does not allow for reality. In any case to attract entrepreneurs providing “most” of the product chain will be a huge improvement and keep the majority of their product/service local. This is a great benefit especially considering quality control however in many cases price is impacted. With this model Company A can work with Company B on a product sold by Company C. This can then be exported beyond the reach of the city etc.

Personally I have seen businesses flush with cash, from specific government grants designed to spur the economy, and shaken my head. In many cases these businesses received free money, despite lacking technologies in the hopes of growth yet many eventually fail when “the money runs out”. Many companies have received money due to following the proper procedure, or knowing the right people rather than any demand for their product. It’s for this reason I feel the free market still remains the most powerful economic force and combined with traditional organic growth a very strong economy can be made. Yet this brings me back to an earlier point, you still need framework and some oversight.

Where does this come into play when regarding a future city? I feel you must allow for organic growth opportunities within a lightly defined framework of urban planning. If these organically-grown companies have the local resources needed, (ie shipping access, loan opportunities, the correct targeted workforce, exposure) they should have all the parts necessary for growth. Of course this assumes the demand it there but that’s another topic. Perhaps the answer to this is to link investors with city planners when designing economic zones. Whether tech zones, cultural, business etc. The organizations providing the necessary capital should have some input. This could be the answer to modern urban planning using cluster zones or even a ring layout. In the new digital age communication isn’t the problem, rather close access to physical collaboration is one of the current hurdles.

 

Tesfa Gebreal, Rocket Internet AG, Ethiopia /New York

“Small businesses define the culture and way of life of Addis Ababa. They display what customers buy, eat and drink. They show how people interact with each other. For example, bargaining is a big part of Ethiopia’s culture and it is apparent in small businesses. They are the basis for the definition of a city”

 

Sally Ryder, Ryder Diamonds, Melbourne/Hong Kong

 Vibrancy of city.

  1. Conducive to business
  2. City with social and business connections.
  3. Government program to sponsor small businesses
  4. Ease to setup, open and runs business

Smrita Jain, The Aquario Group, New Delhi/New York/New Jersey

In context of creating architectural landscapes and cities, I would like to propose, spaces that have the ability to hire story tellers. I believe that any talent has and should have the capability of story telling and must have a contextual story, which can be marketed into any constructive environment. For me, that the key to a constructive, logical, strategical and creative urban planning design.

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Installation, Urban Planning /

Flag Plaza

Flags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furniture

World Countries Flags > International Flag Plaza

We are always interested in bridging the gap between graphics and architecture. The idea of International Flag Plaza is to give a spatial and democratic identity to all countries flags.

Those flags on poles are always seen in Olympics Games or UN conferences, but the setting doesn’t leave visitor much impression or reading of each country. Graphics from the top of a flag pole is also not a democratic approach to tell people what each country is about.

Flags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furniture

It will be more educational and democratic to replace those flags on high poles with physical furniture made in the shape of a flag. People can sit on different flag benches as they read and learn something about the countries.

Design of most country flags are geometrical. Those shapes and pattern already carries a lot of meanings and history. Turning a 2d flag into a 3d bench are inherently contextual. The entire plaza made up of 288 or more flags are also designed as one waving international flag. The end result is a dynamic and inviting plaza that carries the history of the world.

Flags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furniture Flags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furniture Flags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furnitureFlags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furniture Flags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furniture Flags, International, Avoid Obvious, UN, United Nations, Olypmics, Plaza, Benches, 2d, 3d, wood, wave, sustainable, architecture, furniture

 

Installation, Urban Planning /

International Flag Bench

craftwsmanship, wooden bench, 3d bench, waved bench, 2d to 3d. cnc, Architecture, Avoid obvious

2d to 3d: International Flag as Benches

We are always interested in bridging the gap between 2d graphics and 3d architecture. We did it with type and mask previously and this time we explore the potential from a flag’s graphic. The idea is to find spatial quality within a 2d graphics. From a first glance, design of most country flags are geometrical. Those shapes and pattern already carries a lot of meanings and history. The 3d geometry are inherently contextual. It was an easy task to depend the geometry. To carry the concept of a flag to a 3d level, we decided to make the top surface of a bench in a wave form. The stripes and stars are turned into different extrusions and cutout. The end result is a fun and inviting bench that carries the history of its country.

To celebrate Independence Day in the US, we did the first prototype with an American Flag. The final goal is to apply the idea to all the flags and created an international plaza with these international flag benches.

 

Image from WIkipedia

Image from WIkipedia

craftwsmanship, wooden bench, 3d bench, waved bench, 2d to 3d. cnc, Architecture, Avoid obvious

Drawing

 

craftwsmanship, wooden bench, 3d bench, waved bench, 2d to 3d. cnc, Architecture, Avoid obvious

American Flag Bench

General, Installation, Urban Planning /

Hong Kong as a Stage

umbrella movement, occupy central, occupy, protest, hong kong, drama, play, stage

Turning a historical event into a performance?

After seeing the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong late in 2014, we as architects thinks that it will be very interesting to turn the event into a theatrical performance. We can narrate a political movement with actions and graphics. It will help to raise more questions and discussion about the future of Hong Kong in a more entertaining way. Below is a series of set designs that describe the movement in chronological order. The graphic details borrow a lot of symbols used during the movement. Although this set describes one specific protest to demand universal suffrage, but it essentially explores the idea of identify, law and urban planning.

Country and Home

How do people in Hong Kong deal with the identity of being Chinese?

umbrella movement, occupy central, occupy, protest, hong kong, drama, play, stage

Country Vs. Home

Wall and Egg

How do people in Hong Kong deal with the rules setup by China?

umbrella movement, occupy central, occupy, protest, hong kong, drama, play, stage

Wall Vs. Egg

Law and Crime

What is the boundary between violating a law and committing a crime?

umbrella movement, occupy central, occupy, protest, hong kong, drama, play, stage

Law Vs. Crime

City and Village

Is living in a village better than the city?

umbrella movement, occupy central, occupy, protest, hong kong, drama, play, stage

City Vs. Village

Installation, Urban Planning /

Green Mong Kok in South Africa

Micro Galleries, Open Streets Langa, Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape, umbrella revolution, 佔中,佔旺佔領行動行動

Turning streets into gallery:

Micro Galleries turned streets in Langa, Cape Town into a gallery. Their mission is to “change the world in small and creative ways”.

Our work on Green Mong Kok and Documentation of the Umbrella Movement is featured in their show with Open Streets Langa. We are very excited and humbled that our creation of a local drawing and a local movement are now international. Special thanks to Kat Roma Greer from Micro Galleries who organized this event and all the photos below. The interaction between people and art is what made the event meaningful and successful. The idea is very similar to why we teach architecture to young children in Hong Kong. Our agenda is to influence the future leaders with creative thinking. I do believe this exhibition gave people in Cape Town a different idea about “art” and “freedom of speech”.

Kat Roma Greer was in Langa to organize the exhibition with her team. After the event, Kat said to the team”…Old guys were walking down the lane shaking our hands and saying thank you for doing this. It was so shocking and surprising and humbling. I heard endless conversations about the umbrella revolution, saw tonnes of people colouring, reading poems about sunflowers, looking at each detailed image of HK, laughing at space baby, pointing at political cartoons – even on small kid saying in halting English ‘freedom of speech’ reading a work from Sletch Freedom, amazing at the beauty and scale of the European forest. Amazing. Someone asked me about Australian politic and refugee centres, someone else asked how you can create via google images. It was just astounding.”

The idea of turning unused public spaces into exhibition spaces is a fantastic urban planning idea. Micro Galleries previously did it in Wan Chai and Tai Hang in 2013. There are so many public spaces in Hong Kong that can be turned into art projects, like hill that people used to hang clothes and the dark streets in Soho. I can’t wait to find more local spaces in Hong Kong and turn them into meaningful projects.

-Vicky Chan, Artist and Architect

Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape, umbrella revolution, 佔中,佔旺佔領行動行動

Artwork by Vicky Chan; Photo by Kat Roma Greer

 

Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape, umbrella revolution, 佔中,佔旺佔領行動行動

Artwork by Vicky Chan; Photo by Kat Roma Greer

 

Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape, umbrella revolution, 佔中,佔旺佔領行動行動

Artwork by Vicky Chan; Photo by Kat Roma Greer

 

Micro Galleries, Open Streets Langa, Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape, umbrella revolution, 佔中,佔旺佔領行動行動

Artwork by Vicky Chan; Photo by Kat Roma Greer

 

Arts related to Hong Kong by other artists. Photo credit: Kat Roma Greer from Micro Galleries

 

Urban Planning /

Green Mong Kok

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

The Future of Hong Kong

Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape

Green Mong Kok

 

Lesson Learnt

Green Mong Kok is an urban planning idea inspired by the occupy movement in Hong Kong. An occupied street without traffic but filled with park, people, farms, art, religion and public assembly can totally be the blueprint for the future of Hong Kong. It is democratic and sustainable. We can learn from this lesson and take this one step forward. Green Mong Kok will be a neighborhood that is tied together via bridges, tunnels and parks. It will provide more greenery and public spaces to promote better air, better transportation and better quality of life. However, the core and heritage of Mong Kok will be maintained. The drawing shows a list of elements we learnt from the movement and developed further. We implemented some of the sustainable idea on our design for Upcycle Park. The drawings and photos were also exhibited in South Africa.

Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape

Art and Religion > Chinese Opera

Chinese Opera is an important art, but it is becoming less popular among youngsters. This new Mong Kok Opera will become a professional theatre but also an education center for traditional art. It aims to provide new perspective into the heritage. Like Mong Kok, it wants to mix different pop culture together to create ever-changing themes. Chinese drama with a modern twist will raise local and international awareness. It wants to be hip but unique to the Mong Kok (MK) culture.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Guan Gong

Street Library > Mong Kok Library

Library in 21st century is still free to the public but functions more like a think tank for cultural and information exchange. It is no longer a quiet place for study or a typical data storage but rather a place to exchange public knowledge in all kinds of medium. This library can easily form partnership with local electronic store in Mong Kok. Providing 3d printers, 3d scanners, laser cutters and other new technology, this library and local merchants will provide a platform for students and trend-makers to test their new ideas. It will become an incubators for youngsters to gain world advantages without investing a fortunes on equipment.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Library

Free Electricity > Solar Panels

Mong Kok is well-known for its signage and outdoor lighting for retail store. Solar panels can provide a renewable energy source to maintain this tradition while creating a phenomenon in itself. The panels can be installed with sun tracking mechanism. The movement of the array will become a large art installation that changes with the sun. Solar panels can also be served as shading for roof top terrace. Extra energy produced in the system can be stored underground to recharge electric cars.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Children walking on the street at night

Better Air > Cross Ventilation

Cross ventilation between streets will improve air quality and pedestrian connections in Mongkok. Buildings in Mongkok should no longer be considered as individual blocks but rather as small puzzle pieces to a giant puzzle. All the private and public spaces should be interconnected with tunnels, bridge, park, terraces and walkways to create a multilevel circulation system. These urban perforations will not only allow air movement to remove stagnant pollutants, it will also allow people to enjoy the neighborhood from multiple perspectives.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Protestor enjoying the street

Street Art > Overhanging Gardens

Signage will continue to be a local attraction while some newer signs can be turned into hanging oasis. These air gardens are meant to drive curiosity, but also to encourage buildings to extend beyond its property. Since building is now perceived as pieces pf a bigger puzzle, building’s footprints should be allowed to extend in mid-air to enhance the tie between private and public space.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Umbrella Canopy

Transportation > Electric Car and Subway

Subway will continue to be the main option for mass transit. Electric car will share the subway tunnels as highways. This underground transportation hub is condense but efficient. It opens up the street level for greenery and other public programs. The tunnels will be illuminated by skylights on the ground and air will be filtered by greenery. This subway-car hybrid will be an efficient but pollution free environment.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Tents in Admiralty

Street without Traffic > Park

Street without traffic will be turned into park, small retail and rainwater filtration system. Residents can enjoy a park which has been lacking in Mong Kok. Business owner can run flea market style tent on the street to promote local creatives. These temporary retail will provide a much lighter carbon footprint than a big shopping center. Building property will increase in value due to this large scale amenity. The street are also graded into multiple steps with different plant species for filtration. Rainwater can be collected and turned into gray water for future uses in flushing and irrigation.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Farming

Alternative transportation > Air Tram

Air tram is the tram of 21st century. Like traditional tram in Hong Kong Island, they are not the most efficient way to travel but they are the best way for people to enjoy the neighborhood. Air Tram as a floating vehicle will draw people to travel vertically through the surrounding buildings. This method will not only become Mong Kok a tourist destination, its route will pull pedestrian upward. Circulation is no longer 2D but a 3D network that intertwined.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Baby Carriage

Commercial Mall > Green Mall

Existing mall will rethink itself as a mall that promotes green living. Instead of selling fast fashion, fast food and fast designs, it should focus on sustainable fashion, slow food and responsible designs. Customers are encouraged to learn and participate in the manufacturing process of foods and products. They will become more aware of the ingredients they consume and products they wear. It is a process that dig deeper into the chain of consumerism and essentially goes beyond it. Green Mall is a place to buy and exchange ideas. It is to promote best practice in material management and lifestyle management.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Umbrella Art

Unused spaces > Playground

Sports are promoted on different levels of the neighborhood as a way to fight urban diseases. Underground subway are often under-utilized at night. Sports underground can promote physical and emotional health and increase human interactions. Underground tunnels is no longer an intermediate space, but rather as a place of destination filled with sunlight and natural air.

Urban Planning, Architecture without Architect, Mong Kok, tents, street art

Wood Shop

Car > Electrical Car

Underground parking for electric car is provided with battery charging station. Along with solar panels, they will form an efficient public system for people in need of point-to-point transportation.

 

Hong Kong, Occupy Movement, Mong Kok, Urban Planning, Flying Cars, cross ventilation, solar panels, green mall, park, urban landscape

Stalled Buses

Bridges > Hyper Connected Mong Kok

Bridges are built across buildings to encourage multilevel circulation. They will become a key factors to turn Mong Kok into a neighborhood without boundary.

 

Urban Planning /

Street without Lighting

Is street lighting necessary?

We were in Soho, Hong Kong, exploring restaurants. It was amazing to see the street without lighting and traffic. 70% of the retail store were closed and the restaurants illuminated the street with their signage and interior lighting. Seating were setup along the slope and pedestrian were pretty close to us. They could almost taste what we were eating. With quiet old apartment on the upper levels, this part of Hong Kong feels very friendly and quiet.

The amazing part for me is the absence of street lighting. It controls our mood and noise level. There are area that are very bright like the Chinese lantern store, but the rest of the street are very dark in comparison. The contrast makes the store itself more attractive. The product stands out and the store appear like some magic show. This lights contrast also makes people want to talk discreetly as if loud talking would disturb the darkness. Food and people also appear more interesting using multiple light source at various height and colors. Instead of having a consistent halogen warm light on our food and faces, the signage and interior lights created more depth and definition on our faces and food. With that said, I think it is time for us to rethink the strategy of street lighting? Some people complains street without lighting is unsafe, but some researchers has found that there is “no evidence to support the hypothesis that improved street lighting reduces reported crime”. I would argue that it is possible to create a vibrant and safe street without lighting, as long as people can program the street probably. When the street is balanced with the right amount of activities, it is possible to create a night life that are quiet and enjoyable.

Urban Planning /

Vertical City

Kwun Tong Road, Lion Rock, Hong Kong

Hong Kong, a smart vertical city or a dumb extrusion?

Hong Kong is well known as a vertical city. Growing up in Hong Kong, I always thought bridges, stairs, escalators, and elevators were part of every urban city. Only when I moved to New York, I realized the city can be developed flat as well. Below is a set of photos taken in 2014. After 20 years, I re-examine this city as an architect. Things that I thought was normal are slowly disappearing. From butchers setting shops on the stairs to foreign domestic helpers occupying the escalator lobby of HSBC Building on Sunday, these are spaces and events that I didn’t think were important, but they are really indigenous solutions of how people deal with height and spaces.

Some of their solutions are natural, some are cultural but some are just thoughtless extrusion of city blocks. The natural solutions are mostly result of the steep typography. We have Central-Mid-levels escalators rising through a bunch of small retail shops and apartments. In Kowloon, we have buildings facing the Lion Rock as a natural symbol of the Hong Kong spirit. On the other hand, we still see a lot of buildings that are architecturally identical with no thinking put into the bigger planning. They are similar in design, height, and the use of material. Every time I walked by a luxury tower, I always wonder what the developers were thinking other than money. Those new identical buildings don’t have much dialog with other buildings and the street. How can people get the feeling of home in such cold places, needless to say those new towers usually destroyed an old neighborhood. Where are those mom-and-pop shops that can make people feels like home?

 

A diverse city with singular mentality?

Some recent rehabilitation projects like the PMQ and JCCAC in Hong Kong are both fantastic at first sight. Turning an old dormitory or warehouse into artist shops and studio is very sustainable idea. After these initial successes, the Hong Kong government are planning to do more. I originally thought it was great until I talked to a factory owner who makes paper product. I never realize that there are still a lot of active industrial businesses in Hong Kong. He said his company and other businesses are being forced out of the industrial buildings, because the government is planning to re-purpose the building. Landlord and govenment both thinks that they will make more money by renting to technology company than factory. Why can’t Hong Kong accept the diversity of business as a healthy economy? Why can’t people think it is awesome to have a paper factory as their neighbor?

Architecture is a type of design and investment closely related to politics. The worst political mentality of Hong Kong is as soon as Hong Kong see one business model as a money-making model, they will destroy the old one and get to the next big idea as soon as they can. Building and business that is no longer making big bucks are being demolished. I just don’t think this is how a big city should grow. I always admire Mayor Bloomberg from New York City and his effort to diversify businesses in New York after the 2008 Wall Street Crisis. In order to make the city less dependent on the financial institute, he introduced well-known university, like Cornell and other tech giants, like facebook and twitter, to establish campus in New York City. The amount of Start-up in New York beats Silicon Valley. More impressively, the TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) industry created 425,000 jobs in New York City since 2010. The architecture is of course reflecting these creative industries, such as campus on Roosevelt Island and the Gehry’s facebook office. I think this is the type of mentality that Hong Kong need. It is not able the GDP, but it is about diversifying a city’s portfolio by giving every business an opportunity to grow and survive. Good architecture will soon follow.

Breakazine documented some of the urban development in Hong Kong throughout 2014 in their 035 issue. I do think planners, developers, city officials and the general public in Hong Kong can become more conscious about what they are building, planning or willing to accept as a norm. The get-rich-quick mentality already occupy the city and are destroying the human quality of Hong Kong. If we continue like business as usual, we will end up with a singular city with a singular economy. Who really wants to live in an identical box as an identical family having their windows facing into another family doing the same thing?

 

Urban Planning /

Clothes Hanging in Hong Kong

晾衫, 曬衣服, clothes, hanging, duck, hong kong, tradition, sun drying

A “Prohibited” Public Space for Clothes Hanging?::

We found this hill at a local residential complex to be very interesting. People inhabit the concrete hill by hanging clothes, food and toy on it. They hang wire on railing for clothes, lay down newspaper on the floor to make dry fruit, and hang duck on the fence for sun drying. People talks to their neighbors while they were doing their things and their children were running in the background up and down the hill. Although I found it strange that people don’t mind to share their underpants in public, I found this “prohibited” space to be an urban design opportunity.

We can make this place into a an accessible landscape for clothes and food drying. It will be a cultural park that allows neighbors share their daily chores without worrying about getting caught by the complex security. It will also be funny to check out what my neighbor is drying for dinner in this park.

 

Urban Planning /

Old Street with Retails

Kiyomizu Dera Temple, Osaka, Japan ::

We went to Osaka, Japan to do research on urban planning and old street design. It is quite lovely to experience their asymmetrical urban planning, not just the design but also the culture.

The design of the temple is symmetrical, but the planning of the complex is far away from symmetry. See diagram below for its planning. The old street is leading uphill to the first gate which marks the beginning of the temple complex. The street is flanged by retail on both sides. The front gate is not visible from the bottom of the hill but it started to reveals itself as an off-center focus near the last quarter of the retail street. The temple complex continues uphill with different smaller buildings. The grand hall is located off center again but at the top of the mountain overlooking the city. This organic growth may be partly due to the topography, but it certainly feels very modern. It added a sense of discovery to the whole touring process. More information about the temple can be seen on The True Japan.

The best part of this tour is that Japaneses appreciate their own culture. Without proper stats, we saw at least 70% of local visitors at the temple. This UNESCO site is not just for tourist. So many other tourist spots in the world are crowded with foreigners, but local people are not exactly excited about their local landmark. It is also amazing to see how local Japanese come to the temple for fun and worship. Their love for their own heritage make this place so successful and attractive. This is exactly what I think planners, architects and politicians should do for their cities and spaces. We can be purely depends on the attractive designs. We need the ongoing education to teach the young generation to love their city. This kind of culture can almost makes any place enjoyable and alive. I think most people prefer to walk into a culture rather than a textbook photo.

osaka, japan, temple, Kiyomizu Dera Temple

Osaka Aerial

osaka, japan, temple, Kiyomizu Dera Temple

Kiyomizu Dera Temple

Ruins of Saint Paul’s, Macau, China ::

The retail layout in front of Cathedral of Saint Paul is also very similar. The historic facade is at the top of the hill. Curvilinear street with retail on both sides leads people uphill to the grand finale. Of course, there is not much to see behind the ruins. It will be fantastic if the church can be rebuilt to provide additional cultural program.

ruin of st pauls, macau, retail, 鉅記, 手信街

ruin of st pauls

ruin of st pauls, macau, retail, 鉅記, 手信街

Macau Map