The role of the proposed design in the restricted zone acts differently from different groups of people.

From the lens of New Immigrants. Cross borders migration from Mainland China contributes the majority of immigrants in Hong Kong. It is not new to feel discriminated in the city. Whenever there is an argument involved with a non native  Cantonese speaker, it will be seen under a magnifier.

May Day holiday in Hong Kong and the escalation of conflict
Mainland woman swears at other passengers in MTR
Mainland tourists have KFC in MTR
Mainlanders smoke in MTR
Mainlanders excrete in pools

Local news in Hong Kong (please use google translate into English)

source: Hong Kong medias

There is a poem describes the Filipinos in Taiwan.

When a foreigner comes to your land,
As if an intruder facing a hostile jury
I have no intention to do wrongness,
But an outsider seems to carry an original sin,
I am a prisoner behind iron bars,

Confused and helpless,
Still standing straight as much as I can.

Blessie L. De Borja Landingin (2002)

The overseas Filipino workers are outsiders to Taiwan. Their activities are confined and monitored with strict employment regulations. The press tends to paint a negative picture of their presence in the city. The new immigrants in Hong Kong share similar situation, they are not entitled as permanent residents with limited social support. A lot of them are low-skilled low income family who are not respected or treated fairly in the city.

Dispute over new immigrants from the mainland, Hong Kong is unhappy?

source: Southern Weekly, 5/18/2011

The zone between the borders provides the community for new immigrants. Once they pass the control point, it is a feeling of leaving the jail. They can feel free to speak Chinese without being looked down.

The delaminated paths from the main border crossings are created as if the Chinese back alleys for people to feel like home. Narrow winding linear streets for the community to be established.

Lilong with food stores and laundry hanging outside, Shanghai


alleys-01Diagram of the alleys in the proposed site, with squares and a monumental building.

From the lens of Local Residents. After the reunion in 1997, there are more and more pro-democratic protests in Hong Kong. Occupy Central is one of the on-going ones. One of the main reason is the freedom the speech is threatened, a lot of policies are made in order to get rid of the concept of a “Hong Kong citizen”.

The former chief editor of prominent Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao is attacked.

source: BBC News, 2/26/2014

Moreover, locals try to avoid tourist areas as everyday use. In Hong Kong, fewer and fewer residents shop around Tsim Sha Tsui and Elements because of the invasion of Mainland tourists. Hong Kong residents find no place to belong themselves, the conflicts of overwriting the Identity of a Hong Kong citizen to a Chinese raised vigorously.

Chinese Vice President Warns Hong Kong Over Protests

source: The New York Times, 4/25/2014

Freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration are always highly valued in Hong Kong. It is no surprise that people worry about losing the autonomy and becoming one of the ordinary Chinese cities. They need a way to escape, a place for them to feel secure enough.

The underground provides the sense of security for activists as if it will not be interfered. It is a fantasy land to them.

Furthermore, after passing the control points, they can finally embrace the Chinese culture objectively. Not seeing the Mainlanders as a invader since the land doesn’t really belong to Hong Kong. Therefore, walking through the alleys before entering the underground can actually allow them to understand the traditional Chinese lives. Ultimately, to enable these two groups of residents to coexist in harmony in the city.section-01Section diagram of the proposed site, with a monumental building with underground spaces and alleys.

From the lens of the Government. It is not a wise way for the government to suppress the citizens’ voices, and keep standing at the opposing side. Sometimes doing the opposite is indeed a more effective way to control the citizens.

As if dealing with the criminal groups, there is no way to eliminate all the gangsters. Yet, the government has to recognize their activities and allow a buffer zone for them to commit the illegal acts. It needs to strike the balance so that the criminals cannot cross the boundaries and can only stay in the dark. Similarly, this restricted zone performs this function. The government leaves an idle space for people to do what they want as if providing them the freedoms. However, everything is still in control and under monitored.

This is how the Government can regain the trust from the citizens.

Overall, it is a space where impossible occurs. Activities, such as street vendors, big group dancing, demonstrations, revolutionary gatherings, that are in grey area (legally or reguations not accepted) are allowed to happen there.

Elderly dancing in a park, China.


Caroline Chen and her team studied four public spaces in Beijing in the chapter Dancing in the Streets of Beijing. In one of the sites, Beihai, which is an urban park in central Beijing, a dancer complained that there are too many visitors in the park. The residents cannot dance without competing with tour groups for space. [1] Many conflicts in Hong Kong are aroused because the residents feel like being invaded in their territory. Nobody complains about Filipinos who use the public park or the public ground space of HSBC headquarter on Sundays in Central, because they do not interfere the everyday use of the space. However, the tourists from the Mainland do not only stay in tourist spots but immerge into local swimming pools, local beaches and campsites.

Pina Wu tells the story of ChungShan in Taipei in How Outsiders Find Home in the City. Every Sundays, there are thousands of Filipinos visit St. Christopher Church at ChungShan. It is not necessarily that all visitors are Catholics, but many of them attend the Sunday masses to meet friends. They usually have long boring working hours and are trapped at the employers’ home as a domestic helpers. All new comers who have worked in isolation in a household come to ChungShan in their first day off. Many of them put on their best outfits. One Filipina said “On weekdays I am a maid, on weekends why can’t I be myself?” Filipinos often consciously dress poorly when working. To them, ChungShan is an energizing place,a place that they can feel truly at home, a place where Tagalog and English are spoken, a place to show and express who they really are, in full colour. [2]

In Hong Kong, Filipinos have Central, South Asians have Chungking Mansions. A place is needed for the Mainalnder community, where they can be themselves.

In the chapter (Not) Your Everyday Public Space, Jeffrey Hou says Seould’s Pimagol (‘Avoid-Horse-Street’) were the narrow alleys that ran parallel to the city’s historic main road Jong-ro. The commoners turned to these back alleys in order to avoid repeatedly bowing to the noble-class people riding the horses on Jong-ro. Over time, restaurants and shops began to occupy the back alleys, which became a parallel universe and an important part of the vibrant everyday life in the city. [3] It reminds me of the Chinatown in San Francisco, how Stockton Street and Grant Avenue run in parallel that local residents and tourists shop in two separate streets simultaneously. The tourists are  able to have a hands on experience on the Chinese culture, but create least intervention to the locals at the same time. Detours can be created between the control points at the border to channel the people to the “back alleys” inside the restricted zone. classify people. These alleys become the loose space, defined by Franck and Stevens. [4] These loose spaces are the smaller yet grander insurgent public space. Franck and Stevens argue that unintended uses have the ability to loosen up the dominant meanings of specific sites that give rise to new perceptions, attitudes and behaviors, and perhaps the identities as well.


  1. Jeffrey, Hou, “Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities.” Routledge. (2010):25.
  2. Jeffrey, Hou, “Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities.” Routledge. (2010):135-146.
  3. Jeffrey, Hou, “Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities.” Routledge. (2010):4.
  4. Karen, A. Franck and Quentin, Stevens, “Loose Space: Possibility and Diversity in Urban Life.” Routledge. (2007).


You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine_John Lennon

In a lot of movies, all countries will only be allied when there are aliens or drastic disaster. I believe people tend to leave their antagonism under a greater threat.

The site becomes a zone for people from both the communist and capitalist world to coexist. In a mild or a wild way? Once a citizen passes his/her border check point and enters the site, he disappears from his/her city, can the site be the Devil’s Triangle? Is the site a place for the impossibilities to happen?

Secret Organization                                                        Kyung Dong church CIMG3588
Kyung Dong Presbyerian Church, South Korea

source: exhibits of The South Korean pavilion in Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

Its main entrance is located at the back of the building, unlike others which are easily recognized. At the back, there is a staircase leads to the outdoor stadium and another staircase leads to the underground church.

The site is divided into multiple level. Above ground is a camouflage for the underneath space to avoid the satellite surveillance.

Underground offers no view which provides a sense of timelessness and isolation. After the meditation through the underground space, people can then choose to enters Hong Kong or Shenzhen territory.

Map of Derinkuyu, Turkey


Perhaps the lower you go, the more secret program it should be.

Secret NetworkThe circulation network in Central, Hong Kong

source: Diagram from Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook

It is possible to walk all day in Hong Kong without set foot on the ground. Central district is one of the typical example, office towers and shopping malls are interconnected via footbridges or subways. A lot of them are only known by locals who pass by all the time since many of them are not visually connected. It is possible that a footbridge is connected on the 2/F of a building on one facade and another one is connected on the 4/F on the other side or even another underground walkway.

The circulation towards the secret space can be hidden by buildings, by disconnections or any other ways, it may be complicated and confusing to create the privacy.

Activist Recruitmentshopping mallsPartial shopping malls in Hong Kong

At the dawn of the 21st century, a number of advances in verticle transportation are being made, from cableless self-propelled elevator systems to Otis’… Odyssey, a small train, platform, or large box that moves horizontally, vertically, and diagonally – literally opening up a new architectural potential: to extend the urban condition itself from the ground floor to strategic points inside a building in a continuous trajectory.

Rem Koolhaas

The border line to Shenzhen is very close to their developed area with residential and commercial buildings. Yet, it is a more remote area to Hong Kong. The adjacent neighbourhood is not within a walking distance unlike Shenzhen.

There are over a hundred of shopping malls in Hong Kong with different scales, some are operated in chained, under the same management company. Shopping malls act as an infrastructure in Hong Kong, you can find at least one in every district, literally several blocks away. They are often connected to mass railway system or connected to other buildings like office or residential towers. Going to shopping mall is a daily activities in Hong Kong. Even you are not aiming at buying anything, you will somehow pass through a shopping mall accidentally. If a direct transportation such as a shuttle bus can bring people to the border zone from the shopping malls, it can then greatly “shorten the distance” from the city center, to help people engage the zone.

Secret Agent

In order for the camouflage works, the top layer needs to perform successfully, at least trying to achieve a happy coexist community. First goal, it is able to attract visitors. Second goal, it is able to have people put down their anger. Third goal, it is something that the mass public is able to participate.

“Tin Kwong Hui” at Tin Shui Wai, Hong Kong


“Tin Kwong Hui”, a special term in Hong Kong, meaning Street Market during the Dawn. Local residents, mostly the elders, start the business before 6am. The community has fought for 2 years to legalize this activity at a designated space but failed to do so. As a result, the vendors can only keep their trading in the dark and bear the risk of being arrested at anytime.

source: Mingpao Daily 5/13/2012

There are only several places with street market left in Hong Kong, the Government place the vendors into indoor buildings. Although in terms of program or function between a street market and an indoor market are alike, the experiences provided are vastly different. The Government sacrifices the needs of the community in return for their ease of management.

Wan Chai Market, Hong KongWan Chai Tai Yuen Street, Hong Kong


These two markets are just 5 minutes walk away. However, the usage and the human flows are extremely opposite.

A campaign including a DVD talks about the vanishing street markets in Hong Kong, produced by a local organization, Breakazine!

There are already so many studies and facts demonstrate the advantages of street activities. Malls run in a controlled way, controlled environment, controlled climate, controlled shops, which are suitable for brand. On the other hand, streets are able to offer a more porous and bottom-up approach such as small capital or start-up or temporary activities. This can be adopted in the design which allows the mass public to be involved and enhance the community as a result.

This is where the agents to safeguard the hidden space and to find potential members, it is also where the source comes from.

Secret GatheringKorean pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2014The South Korean pavilion in Venice Architecture Biennale 2014


Because of the preparation of this pavilion, the architects in South Korea engaged the related parties in North Korea. Cho said the bonding between North and South Korea is enhanced through this event.

A joint project can be organized in my proposed site so as to have diverse people get involved in it. Similar to the spirit of sports, as long as people have the same goal to achieve, they tend to leave the personal issues aside.

In fact, there is Shenzhen/Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture since 2007. Unfortunately, same as the case of the Korean Pavilion, only limited disciplines of people were involved. It is still not the ideal project that the mass public can participate except being a visitor.

Another proposed project is the 6.4 gathering, it is a memorial event of Tiananmen Square Massacre that happened on June 4th 1989. 6.4 is a forbidden topic in the Mainland, people cannot even search or post anything about it in the internet. Some Mainlanders came to Hong Kong to attend this event.

The 25th annual evening memorial event in Victoria Park in 6/4/2014, Hong Kong


These events may be housed indoor for people to forget where they are, not the money driven Hong Kong nor the soviet urbanism China. Buildings can be an opportunity to create another mini world inside, and can be the connection to the underground too.

In An Architecture of Change, Gomez and Rogers ask us to reconceive utopianism not so much as a practice but as a process, one that has the potential to transform both the production of space and the distribution of social and political power. They explain the failure of modernist utopias is because their dependence on the state and capital for their realization.  It is not new that architecture (or design in general) becomes political blindness. However, I do believe architecture has a significant impact to the society (can be both in good and bad ways). Architects should therefore take the responsibility for the consequences of any action they took, it is unacceptable to accept conditions as they stand. [1]

I was shocked by the historic events listed in Project on the City I: Great Leap Forward. Honestly, Mao was not mentioned much in the history class in Hong Kong. Both the glorifying acts and the suppression measures to get rid of anyone who did not agree with him terrified me. [2]

In the article Subtraction, Easterling mentions the situation of Naura. It is an island country that relies others’ help, it sells its commodity in return including the dirty work. [3] At the end of her book, she says pirates are not necessarily worse than those who put on fake masks. The pirates perform as an edge of a country, define its porosity. [4]

Hong Kong somehow acts as the role of Naura, things that are not allowed in the Mainland may be possible here. My design is the place that enable harmless forbidden things to happen. Hong Kong itself should not to give in this unique character so as to continue to shine in the stage of the world, otherwise it has no difference among other first tier cities in China.

It is very impressive to read the article Does Your Mall Have An Airporteven as a Hong Kong citizen to be honest. I realize the remote check-in service inside the mall is an edge, but I never know there is a cross border check-in service as well. This tiny implementation really helps blur the boundary between Mainland and Hong Kong. [5]

But, this convenience doesn’t necessarily help improve the relationship between the Mainland and Hong Kong. It has a reverse effect instead. This allows the Red injects into the Blue directly without any buffer zone. Unless the mall, Elements, employs any measures to invite Hong Kong citizens, the nature of resistance makes people to refuse to visit it. It then becomes a mall solely for the Mainlanders as described in the article. It is a red spot in a blue sea.

Malls really play an significant role in Hong Kong. They are more like a center point of each district. You can find a mall in every neighbourhood within walking distance. Thus, malls accommodate a lot of services more than just shopping here. It is more like an infrastructure than a commercial spot to us. A lot of them are connected with mass transport, airport express, railway systems, etc. And the other programs will then be built around it, say residential complex on top of the malls is very common.

Intertwined network in West Kowloon, Hong Kong [6]

Jan Ghel points out that it is crucial to determining the acceptable distance in a given situation is not only the actual physical distance, but also to a great extent the experienced distance. [7] Therefore, a shuttle service can indeed shorten the distance. This is also the reason for CCA students who choose to live near Oakland campus although they only have class in San Francisco.


  1. Bell, Bryan and Wakeford, Katie, “Expanding Architecture: Design As Activism.” New York: Metropolis Books. (2008):24-25.
  2. Chuihua Judy, Chung, Jeffrey, Inaba, Rem, Koolhaas and Sze Tsung, Leong, “Great Leap Forward.” Harvard Design School. (2001): 32-43.
  3. Keller, Easterling, “Enduring Innocent: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades.” MIT Press. (2005):180-184.
  4. Keller, Easterling, “Enduring Innocent: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades.” MIT Press. (2005):196.
  5. Max, Hirsh and Jonathan D., Solomon, “Does Your Mall Have An Airport?” Log. (2010):99-106.
  6. Adam, Frampton, Jonathan D., Solomon and Clara, Wong, “Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook.” ORO Editions. (2012):68-69.
  7. Jan, Ghel, “Life Between Buildings.” Island Press. (2011):137.