Related Staff : Natalia Echeverri
Although the theoretical and typological antecedents of social housing in Hong Kong can be traced, globally, to the early 20th century, the birth of the Public Housing programme is commonly said to begin on December 25th, 1953, when a massive fire destroyed the informal hillside settlements of Shek Kip Mei. The colonial government reacted by building resettlement housing for the displaced communities. The planning of the settlement was foremost an exercise in economy and environmental risk management, nevertheless, it begat a system which evolved rapidly and exists today, providing a rich variety of housing options and living environments for half of Hong Kong’s residents. From many other points of view however, the housing program represents a lost opportunity and a dangerous precedent. Propagated as part of the new-town developments in the 70’s and 80’s, housing estates were necessarily self-contained enclaves at the urban fringes such as Sha Tin and Pokfulam. Today, these enclaves sit largely in isolation from the dense urban fabric that has grown up around them. This studio will focus on the urban design and landscape of public housing in Hong Kong, interrogating these self-contained developments within their current contexts. Students will start by researching and analyzing open space typologies within various phases over the last six decades. We shall investigate the spatial, ecological and social relationships experienced in a public housing development in terms of its nested relationships, from the unit to the block, from the blocks to the estate, and from the estates to city. Ultimately, the students will test their strategies on an existing public housing estate, Wah Fu, which is concurrently being slated for investigation by the authorities.