Related Staff : Natalia Echeverri
The contemporary morphology of urban Hong Kong is the result of rapid population growth, land scarcity, diverse cultural identities, and social, political and economic determinism. Its unique and ever-evolving urban forms are imprinted with the history of more than 150 years of piecemeal aggregation through reclamation, development, and renewal. Over time, each of these expansions adapts itself to the urban fabric, producing specific spatial conditions that shape the lives of its inhabitants. To work in this urban context, designers must develop a keen understanding of and ability to engage with its complexities and multi-layered conditions. This studio examined the relationships between people and the built environment. Through a series of exercises, students learnt to identify and analyze key aspects (physical, ecological, economic and social) that shape an urban context; to build a vocabulary that communicates urban forms and the environment, and to propose appropriate interventions within that context. The studio focused on Shanghai Street, one of the longest streets in Kowloon. Traversing 2.3 kilometers through four distinct neighborhoods, the street embodies a rich history whose character is reflected in its built forms, landscape and inhabitants. Originally a shallow bay, the area was reclaimed in the late 1800s. From the very beginning, Shanghai Street became economically vibrant due to its proximity to the Yau Ma Tei typhoon shelter and the ferry piers. As the area continued to expand through reclamation, development and urban renewal, many of the original uses and inhabitants relocated to other areas of the city. Today we can still see remnants of traditional elements layered with new ones in many spaces that find contemporary uses by new occupants, such as artists, ethnic minorities, activists, prostitutes and vendors.