A Landscape Typological Study of Public Housing in Hong Kong

Department: Landscape Architecture
Active Dates: May 2016 - May 2018

Project Title: A Landscape Typological Study of Public Housing in Hong Kong

Project Team: Ivan VALIN, PI

Project Funding: HKU URC-Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research


This paper investigates the emergence of the professional landscape architect in Hong Kong from 1973 to 1988 and the discipline’s uneven assimilation into existing urban development practices. The period marks a shift from an ad-hoc, borrowed forms practice, to more standardized norms that were ultimately calcified in the disciplinary regulations and bureaucratic structures that exist today. Of specific interest is how the epistemologies of these new landscape architects engaged the knowledge networks of established colonial technocrats: a heterogeneous cast of disciplines at various stages of their own localization trajectory. More generally, the paper will show how a discipline that had matured in the empire was translated in the colony.

The professional landscape architect only appears in Hong Kong in the mid-1970’s, largely in response to a capacity vacuum generated by the 1972 Ten-year Housing Programme. First in private practice, and later in specialized landscape architecture units within the Housing Authority and other government departments, trained landscape architects worked in large, multidisciplinary project teams. Although the discipline’s influence—in terms of manpower and budget—was marginal in these engineering-led projects, this first generation of practitioners contributed a number of sensitively-designed public spaces to the expanding city. The legacy of the profession during this period—the products of these internal and external struggles—complicate existing planning and architecture-oriented narratives of development in Hong Kong. This paper revisits this short but productive period as a “space of hope” in the construction of the city and a model for contemporary interdisciplinary spatial practices.

Anticipated Outcomes:

  • 1 conference paper: Valin, I (2016). “On the contrary: Landscape architecture, colonial knowledge networks and the practices of development in Hong Kong, 1973-1988,” AAS-in-Asia Conference, Doshisha University, Kyoto.
  • GRF proposal 2017.


Enlarge Photo: A Landscape Typological Study of Public Housing in Hong Kong 1