Examining Public Open Space in The High-density City

Department: Architecture
Author: VALIN Ivan, LU Xiaoxuan, TRUMPF Susanne

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Interstitial Hong Kong (IHK) is a project to document the smallest and most under-appreciated part of the public realm in Hong Kong. Known as Sitting-out Areas (SOAs) and Rest Gardens (RGs) these spaces exist throughout Hong Kong in the interstices of the city’s physical urban fabric. These spaces form a distinct typology of small scale public realm in the city, and are here for the first time studied in a categorical way based on their impact on public life, community, and ecology. Original categories were created to explain the strategic approaches taken to context and use that were discovered through the drawing and analysis. The work documents an urban anomaly and anticipates ways in which these spaces might be leveraged to make tactical improvements to the urban public realm. The major output of the work took place in three sequential exhibitions in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou, with further dissemination of the underlying research in journal and conference papers. Furthermore, a series of original drawings and models was produced to disseminate the results of the research project. The research project has been selected for a Commendation by the 2019 RIBA President’s Award for Research.

The exhibitions provided an exchange of resources concerning the public realm in Hong Kong and raised a discourse on its alteration and development through government policies and public interaction. The exhibition informed a multidisciplinary discussion on design and planning in Hong Kong. The exhibition contributed to a larger public debate on the form, function, distribution and accessibility of public space in high-density cities and sought opportunities by which this typology might counteract the general erosion of public-ness in the contemporary city.

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