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).

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