Related Staff : Marta Catalan, Pat Xiao
Assistant: Saw Yu Nwe Sandra
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. To work in this urban context, designers must develop a keen understanding of, and ability to engage with, its complexities and multi-layered conditions. The studio examined the relationship between people and the built environment in the city. Although a variety of communities in different contexts and locations use public spaces in Hong Kong, this studio focused on an often overseen community: foreign domestic workers and their use of public space. Domestic workers flee the confines of their employers’ homes on Sundays and occupy large portions of Hong Kong public space to socialize and attend to personal matters. Over time, foreign domestic workers filling central locations of Hong Kong have become a well-accepted part of the urban landscape. Yet, despite the massive presence of domestic workers in these spaces, landscape designers of these areas have often neglected to engage with this community. This studio relies on ethnographic fieldwork as a way to complement the production of spatial mappings, and demonstrate how the different stakeholders inform an urban political economy that is not reflected in official reports. Through a series of exercises, students learned to identify, analyze, and document the key dimensions and functions of the urban public realm; build a vocabulary that communicates an externally-informed process; and propose appropriate forms and conditions of intervention.