Related Staff : Marta Catalan, Pat Xiao
This studio examined the relationship between people and the built environment in the city, with a focus on an often overseen community: foreign domestic workers. Foreign domestic workers, mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia but also from other countries in Southeast Asia, account for a labor force that, according to the law and unlike any other group of migrant workers, must live-in with their employers. Propelled by this condition, 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. The studio relied on ethnographic fieldwork as a way to complement the production of spatial mappings. The examination of domestic workers as peripheral communities and the surrounding competing narratives allowed the students to ask questions about the centers of power and in this way explore notions of migration, ethnicity, class, gender, and domesticity projected onto Hong Kong’s public space. Through a series of exercises, students learnt to identify, analyze, and document the key dimensions and functions of the urban public realm; to build a vocabulary that communicates an externally- informed process; and to propose appropriate forms and conditions of intervention.