Ariel view of July 1 march in 2014, Hong Kong source:

The annual July 1 march in Hong Kong marks the handover of the British colony to Beijing that took place in 1997. The  peaceful demonstration has become a rallying point for pro-democracy activists. Hong Kong lawyers march to defend judiciary in wake of Beijing’s white paper. Hong Kong is today an angry and polarised society. The number of protesters reached the new high on July 1 this year. We were never like that even during the fear-filled days after the Tiananmen crackdown that led up to the handover. We never stormed the Legislative Council building. Now we have teenagers posting online advice on how to smash Legco glass doors. source: South China Morning Post

Cultural Exchange Village

Waterfront promenade, Middle Village, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong, OMA, 2010 source: OMA website It provides a platform for people to hold cultural activities. The platform is created by the extension of the streetscape of the two cities so as to act as the lubricant between the two cities. The village organization helps to absorb the massive scale of the site into manageable portions. It has a strong emphasis on vibrant street life and cultural production are nurtured and made visible. Through the transparency, people understand each other hardship and perspectives. People then start to appreciate each other work and see each in a less bias way. Growing Stage Growth of the Grid, Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities, OMA, 2010 source: OMA website With the success of this space where more and more people visit this restricted area, it is designed with phases. It must be able to react and adapt to change over time at every scale. The idea is to have a design frame that is flexible enough to grow. It is a bottom-up approach that the events, activities, forms and even sizes are depended on the users. Its aim is to basically set up a stage and the visitors will become the actors to make up the scene. There are certain fundamentals have to keep, like the end nodes have to be the existing border check points. Yet, how many paths can be connected between them and how provide the potential to grow. Cage San Diego Zoo source: This assumes “One Country Two Systems” is a total failure, people find threats in the outside world and seek for protection in a self-trapped way. The cage provides such a security that people are willing to be trapped and imagined they are the one who have freedom while the animals outside are being controlled. The Chinese Republic Government has just released state council’s white paper declaring that Two Systems, Communism and Capitalism, are not in parallel, instead, they are in hierarchy which the capitalism running in Hong Kong is under the frame of communism in China. This restricted area becomes the last glory land for people who want to seek for true democracy to defend for. It acts as  a safe cave to people who cannot cope with the real world. It’s a chapel, a sanctified holy land to them, who try to find peacefulness and comfort in the zone. Yet, being comfortable is not the priority here. Having the sense of secure and fear at the same time is crucial instead, it can be brutal, it can be minimal. Maybe it is so unfavourable so that people would be triggered to fight for a revolution. Shopping Paradise Poster of The Wolf of Wall Street source: This presumes the border between Hong Kong and the Mainland will be eliminated eventually. a central business district is developed to loosen the tension between these two worlds. One of the main purpose of mainland tourists to visit Hong Kong is to do shopping because of its low price and guaranteed quality. Residents who live in the districts that are close to the border suffer a lot, they cannot even buy groceries like baby milk powder, or they have to pay a much higher price than before for some usual daily products and food. This place targets those shoppers and offer the products they want in order to free up the those suffering districts. For tourists, they are able to shop next to Shenzhen without entering the inner part of Hong Kong. This strategy makes use of economic development to distract people from the political attention. It will then not be seen as a border between the two cities, but a center spot of Pearl-River-Delta Economic Zone. A place where money is the law, information can be controlled, can be censored, can be distorted, as long as the business is running. Nobody cares who is governing the place. Anything that cannot generate revenue is not allowed, making people rich is the only way to make people silent, which keeps the society stable. People will rather be a slave of money than to sacrifice for a better good. All they need is the dream that they are able to be wealthy one day.

Bernard Tschumi said we  can never dissociate architecture from the events that happen in it.[1]  Jan Gehl has a similar view but he emphasizes more on the negative space. He believes the space between buildings is where the real public life happens, how it happens or how it is used is greatly influenced by the masssing designed. He pointed out that the prime importance to recognize that it is not buildings, but people and events, that need to be assembled.[2] What is important is not whether factories, residences, service functions, and so on are placed close together on the architects’ drawings, but whether the people who work and live in the different buildings use the same public spaces and meet in connection with daily activities.[3] The battle for high quality in cities and building projects must be won at the very small scales, but preparations for successful work at this level must be made on all planning levels.[4] He listed out different scenarios to assemble and disperse people. And due to my hypothesis, I am more focused on the assemblage. At large scale, streets and squares are the major elements around which all other functions are located. At medium scale, place the individuals buildings and functions so that the system of public spaces is as compact as possible and so that the distances for pedestrian traffic and sensory experiences are as short as possible. Since they are most likely outdoor spaces, they have to be climate sensitive. We can take reference at small scale in the case of the High Line. James Corner commented the experience of strolling is intentionally slowed down in the otherwise bustling context of Manhattan. Paths meandering in between tall perennial and grass plantings create an experience that can not really be properly captured in a photograph, or even video. Like so many other gardens, the place must be walked, with scenes unfolding in sequence and in juxtaposition. The dynamic plantings are different from week to week, with varied blooms, colors, textures, effects, and moods, combined with the changing light at different times of day, varied weathers and seasons, and with the different microclimatic effects of the surrounding cityscape. The visitor is almost always experiencing the High Line in newly nuanced ways. The visitor becomes as much a performer as viewer, more deeply engaged in participating in the theatricality of urban life—the promenade as elevated catwalk, urban stage, and social condenser. The combination of physical, material places with cultural ideas points to the unity of theory with practice, of design with reception, and of experience with intellect, all dialogues that we strive for in the best of our work. In sum, sight lines are important, If people do not see a space, they will not use it. Overdimensioning hurts, streets become roads, the squares become huge, open, nondescript areas devoid of people. The streets need to have hierarchy, not too many detours. They need to have phrasing, and the ability to grow. Maximize porosity of massing. Using the principle of narrow, deep lots along with careful use of frontage space wherever buildings face sidewalks and pedestrian routes. Bibliography:

  1. Tschumi, Bernard, “Architecture and Disjunction.” MIT Press. (1996):139.
  2. Ghel, Jan, “Life Between Buildings.” Island Press. (2011):81.
  3. Ghel, Jan, “Life Between Buildings.” Island Press. (2011):101.
  4. Ghel, Jan, “Life Between Buildings.” Island Press. (2011):83.
  5. Corner, James and Hirsch, Aison, “The Landscape Imagination.” Princeton Architectural Press. (2014):341-350.

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