Landscapes of Infrastructure

Department: Landscape Architecture
Research Centre: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Initiative
Active Dates: May 2016 – December 2017

Project Title: Landscapes of Infrastructure

Project Team:
Dorothy S. Tang (Co-PI), DLA HKU
Cecilia L. Chu (Co-PI), DLA HKU
Iris Chan, Special Collection, HKU Library
Heather Coulson, Construction Photographer

Project Funder:  Currently in preparation for funding bid.


Landscape of infrastructure is an exhibition and publication project centering on the exploration of ecological, technological, and social dimensions of infrastructure in the shaping of Hong Kong’s modernist landscapes from 1970 to the present. The project, which includes a public exhibition, a lecture series, and publication of research articles, is three-fold. First, it will help facilitate interdisciplinary discussions between academics, built environment professionals and members of the public with a shared interest in the histories of infrastructure. Second, it will offer an opportunity to reflecting on Hong Kong’s phenomenal infrastructure development in the past and envision ways to shape the city’s urban futures. Lastly, the project will act as a catalyst for much-needed research on the roles of infrastructure in shaping the forms of the city and everyday life of citizens.

The proposed public exhibition, entitled “Infrastructure Imagination: Hong Kong City Futures: 1972-2017,” will revisit infrastructure projects in Hong Kong in the last four decades. The exhibition will center on the Heather Coulson Photograph Collection, which has been generously donated to the HKU Library by Heather Coulson, a construction photographer who worked in Hong Kong between 1972-1988. Photographs of the collection, many of which have never been shown to public before, comprise a valuable documentation of major infrastructural projects implemented in Hong Kong. The exhibition will be supplemented with personal stories, historic films, oral histories from professionals and community members, and archival records that document the construction boom in Hong Kong in the last quarter of the 20th century.

Anticipated Outputs:

  • Lecture series organized by the Division of Landscape Architecture.
  • Public Exhibition and half-day symposium on infrastructure in Hong Kong.
  • Two research articles for publication in refereed journals.
  • Edited book, with curated photographs, interviews, and essays.


“The provision of adequate infrastructure of every kind – for power and water supplies; transportation of every type; land creation for new towns and for many other purposes – has created significant design challenges for Hong Kong’s engineering fraternity, and resulted in some extraordinarily brilliant solutions. The exhibition will surely be a tour de force!”

(Richard Gamlen, Civil Engineer, Hong Kong).


Enlarge Photo: Image 1: Hong Kong’s infrastructure projects (Source: Heather Coulson). Enlarge Photo: Image 2: Hong Kong’s infrastructure projects (Source: Heather Coulson)