Lead Curator: Wang Weijen
Responding to the theme of freespace of 2018 Venice Biennale, the Exhibition Vertical Fabric: density in landscape, celebrates the unique urban conditions of Hong Kong by exploring the innovation of freespace within the controlled vertical towers. By inviting 100 architects from Hong Kong and worldwide to install 100 towers that march along the venue’s courtyard and exhibition rooms, the exhibition illustrates the compactness of Hong Kong’s urban form while exploring new tower prototypes for Hong Kong and the world. Walking in-between towers through this miniature city, visitors experience the city’s spaces of vertical intensity, discovering varieties of interpretation on freespace through individual proposition of tower designs by architects.
The exhibition offers an open platform to create dialogues and statements on vertical architecture and urbanism of Hong Kong’s slender towers, incubating visions for vertical freespace and speculating how they can distinct from other models of contemporary towers. The venue manifests how innovation overcomes constraints through generating extraordinary spaces from ordinary forms, providing architects an opportunity to shape discourses on tower typology that faces challenges of technology, community, and sustainability.
With rigorously designed exhibition logistics, 100 tower-model bases are prepared for exhibitors to redefine their choices of form, function, structure and infrastructure of towers. In order
to coordinate a consistent visual presentation with a collective exhibition form, 3 types of tower model-base are designed for exhibitors: Core, Frame, and Wall, suggesting the infrastructural support systems on structure, circulation and services for typical slender towers.
With continuing exhibitions and forums for outreach in Hong Kong
after Venice, the exhibitions attract over 100,000 visitors and hundreds of media reports in Venice and Hong Kong, making significant impacts among the community, professionals and academics of Hong Kong, China and the region. Vertical Fabric: density in landscape.
Looking down at Hong Kong’s Central from the Victoria Peak, one will be amazed at the wave of towers springing up from the sloping terrain down to the harbor front. The city’s vertical fabric spreads along the water edge as a belt of tightly woven texture. Its verticality is punctuated by the horizontality of elevated freeways slicing through, and momentarily agitated by multi-level junctions when different horizontal momentums—highways, subways, skywalks, urban escalators—intersect with the verticals, together form a complex totality in which one compensates for the other. Generated by floor efficiency and tightly-crafted building codes based on plot ratio control, the slender towers, framed by land economy through demands for density, establish the city’s dominating typology, not only governing our urban skyline but also shaping our daily urban and architectural experiences. On the other hand, with the planning of densely packed urban area, Hong Kong sustains the land-use for most of its territories as greenery to become landscapes of freespace. While maintaining mostly small land parcels, slender towers in Hong Kong also provide porosity of urban gaps in-between. Distinguished itself from other global cities, Hong Kong’s unique urban form celebrates an aesthetic of density and intensity, while comprising a gigantic rhetoric of speculation for both transaction and consumption.