My interest is to look into the conflicts between the Mainland China and Hong Kong. Since the reunion in 1997, more frictions arise in Hong Kong. The principle of “One Country Two Systems” is easier to be said than done. Similar to the fall of Berlin Wall, it is difficult, if not impossible, to merge the citizens, who were grown up and educated in a total different political systems, seamlessly. Failure to acknowledge their differences will result in oppositions and confrontations, which is the current situation in Hong Kong.

The hypothesis is  that when there is a mutual platform for citizens from both Hong Kong and the Mainland while this space doesn’t belong to neither party, it becomes a buffer zone for people to understand each other objectively.


map Border line between Hong Kong and Shenzhen with three main  custom check-points.

source: google map

A bounded linear space. The Reception Area, Exodus | The Voluntary Prisoners, Rem Koolhaas, 1972


According to Rem Koolhaas’s thesis in Exodus, he believes the construction of wall provides a desirable alternative that people are willing to enter this confined space and feel protected.

Having a solid wall to bound the space and strongly separated the two worlds, Mainland and Hong Kong, physically. This space is treated as a third city to compete with the other two. It is so attractive that people will be drawn to this trapped space, and able to review their own cities and learn from each other inside.

Bridged Space by creating new nodes. Bridge City, Bernard Tschumi, 1988

source: Benard Tschumi Architects website

The bridges are the programmatic and spatial elements. They link two parts of the city that conflict in both scale and character. They also act as an urban generator, not only create the physical links, but also encourage new urban events.

The border line needs to be analysed in order to define suitable nodes to link together. People will be actively using these newly created linkages/pathways/bridges, not just for crossing the border, but as a new programmatic space in daily time and leisure purposes. Each linkage/pathway/bridge has its own specific theme in order to help activation.

An infrastructure. EuraLille, OMA, 1994

source: OMA website

OMA believes the experience of Europe would shift once the railway tunnel that links between England and Europe was completed.  This master plan pictured Lille as a center of Europe which is able to activate between London, Brussels and Paris.

The existing infrastructure is the starting point to expand from it. The three border custom check-points can be considered as these influencing points.

An island stitches two cities.

3-Kartal_Pendik.jpgKartal Pendik Masterplan, Zaha Hadid, 2006

source: Zaha Hadid Architects website

The idea is more economic focus. Kartal is consider as a key economic success to Turkey. As the urban growth, a new piece of land is developed for metropolitan decentralisation and will form the backbone of a sustainable poly-centric urban configuration.

The empty land can be developed into a Central Business District. Similar to the previous condition, having the space as a new center between Mainland and Hong Kong. It is a centralized land and able to diffuse outwards to activate the adjacent areas, especially the suburban areas of Hong Kong. This piece of land can be focused on a specific area, say high technology, an eco-city, medical center, or education research base.

Jan Gehl categorized outdoor activities as necessary activities, optional activities, and social activities.

p13_large.jpgGraphic representation of the relationship between the qualitiy of outdoor spaces and the rate of occurence of outdoor activities.[1]

He also pointed out the influence of social interaction with the outdoor time spent.

p15_large.jpgChart plotting the relationship between the number of outdoor activities and frequency of interactions.[2]

There are studies showing that the vehicle traffic flow significantly hurts the human traffic, as a result, reduce the outdoor activities. In Copehegan, with the number of pedestrian streets and squares in the city center had tripled between 1968 and 1986, a tripling in the number of people standing and sitting was also recorded.

Pedestrian traffic before and after closing a street to vehicular traffic.Pedestrian traffic before and after closing a street to vehicular traffic in Bjerggade, Elsinore, Denmark[3]

p37_1_large.jpgRegistration of frequency of occurence of outdoor activities (dots) and contacts between friends and acquaintances (lines) in three parallel streets in San Fransisco.
Top: Street with light traffic
Center: Street with moderate traffic.
Bottom: Street with heavy traffic. Almost no outdoor activities and few friendships and acquaintances among the residents.[4]

One of the main point that Ghel brings out is, if there is not an uncomplicated opportunity for people to have passive contacts or to maintain an established contacts, there will not be further development of people relationship. Without step 1, not to mention about step 4,5 or 6.

To provide a platform for Mainlanders and citizens from Hong Kong to meet, an outdoor scene is ideal because it allows social activities  to happen causally in a daily basis without intention.

In order to create a good physical environment, it requires human activity as an attraction. Having a giant space with activities do not necessarily able to activate the area, a lot of failure examples in the United States. Yet, one thing unlike the States here at the proposed site is, especially Hong Kong, it is not an automobile-dominated city. It has potential to develop a public pedestrian space with vibrant street life.

It is crucial in how to design a space for the events as the generator to create a favourable platform for citizens of the Mainland and Hong Kong to understand each other.


  1. Ghel, Jan, “Life Between Buildings.” Island Press. (2011):11.
  2. Ghel, Jan. “The Residential Street Environment.” Built Environment 6, no.1 (1980):51-61.
  3. Ghel, Jan. “Pedestrians and Vehicular Traffic in Elsinore.” Byplan 21, no. 122 (1969): 132-133.
  4.  Appleyard, D., and Lintell, M. “The Environmental Quality of City Streets.” Journal of the American Institute of Planners, JAIP, vol. 38, no. 2. (1972): 84-101.



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