Situating Situation

There has been a growing interest in rediscovering the history and culture of Hong Kong since handover in 1997. Hong Kong has experienced the reawakening of its own history in the past 20 years through a form of post-colonial fascination — from the intangible cultural heritage of herbal tea and the egg waffle to the much debated preservation of Ho Tung garden  and King Yin Lei.

This studio highlights a few key moments that reflect the arrival of so-called “Hong Kong Modernism” through the lens of architecture. In the roaring 50s and 60s, Hong Kong experienced a big push for public housing development (Shek Kip Mei Public Housing) with the British-ruled government. With the sudden increase in population there existed a new demand for entertainment, thus Hong Kong witnessed a blossoming of cultural/infrastructural building types such as the New City Hall in Central(1962) as well as numerous theaters being planned all over the colony.

At the same time, the architecture program at HKU (the only Tertiary Educational provider at the time) was at its infancy, its first graduating class in 1955.

So the question remained: Who was prepared and had the expertise to respond to the increasing demand for housing?

Breathing Space by the Dead

My thesis questions the potentials of the cemetery in Hong Kong as an infrastructure through redefining the limit of boundary between the cemetery and the city, specifically the in-between edge condition.

Cemetery in Hong Kong is an open space that will not be removed from its original setting, under the circumstances of our cultural taboo towards the notion of death. It performs as an urban anchor which resists the pressure of urban development in Hong Kong. Locations of cemeteries that were first situated as infrastructures in the rurals of Hong Kong, eventually transformed into various scales of voids within the dense context, as the urban substances expand radically beyond its city’s edge. The cemetery in close proximity to the urban, however, remain as a demarcated segment from the city defined through an undulating buffer zone along the line between the death and living, where the edge can be as intimate as a cliff within hand gripping distance.

With cemetery stemmed as a burn mark in the city, along the demand of growing capacity to accommodate the death and living, the cemetery and the city will collide. This is an opportunity for new definitions of boundaries to rise!

Chief Curator, “On Reading Single Family House” exhibition in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Project Title: Chief Curator, “On Reading Single Family House” exhibition in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Principal Investigator/Team: Anderson Lee

Funding Body: Hong Kong – Taiwan Economic and Cultural Cooperation and Promotion Council, HKSAR

Abstract:

The main idea of the exhibition: The study of Single Family House as an important architectural discourse, and how architects from the three places are responding to building the “Modern Primitive Hut”-the most fundamental and essential form of shelter in Architecture. We invited about 12 Chinese / Taiwanese / Hong Kong architects who have recently designed and constructed single-family-houses in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Each exhibitor will exhibit models at different scales and panels about the background story of each project, design process and images of final built project. All the models displayed in a standard wooden suitcase.

Symposium title: “Trifold story: The Life of Single Family House in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong”. Bring together architects from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong to discuss about their building experience in single family houses and how that is related to the entire architectural and cultural development in the area.

Objective:

Showcase the unique single family houses in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and to arouse a discussion on the future of Modern Chinese Architecture.

Results:

The exhibition and symposium completed in Taiwan and Hong Kong respectively. Through the exhibition which generated a dialogue or discussion on the role and purpose of single family house in architecture discourse.

Outputs:

The exhibition and symposium completed in Taiwan and Hong Kong respectively.

Anticipated impact:

Through the exhibition we can open up discussion on this private domain to the public realm by first looking at land policy, ownership rights, economic pressure, individual incentive, and its subsequent architectural outcomes. The possibility and opportunity to design single family house varies quite significantly in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong because of their differences in their respective social, political and economic constructs.

Creative Learning Module (CLM) for Architecture and Surveying students

Project Title: Creative Learning Module (CLM) for Architecture and Surveying students

Principal Investigator/Team: Anderson Lee(Co-PI), Christopher Webster (Co-PI)

Funding Body: HKU Teaching Development Grant(TDG); FoA dean‟s start-up fund

Abstract:

Creativity Learning Module (CLM) is a stand-alone workshop to complement and enhance the teaching and learning experience of our undergraduate students. CLM is an un-assessed, compact and freestanding module that focuses on helping our students become aware of their personal attributes and natural roles in teamwork. As well as facilitating discovery and awareness of own and others‟ strengths and weaknesses in group situations, we expect the experience to help students make more out of the remainder of their academic programmes. CLM will empower students by helping them to better understand their own characters, which in turn will help them to develop the emotional intelligence and social behavior required to achieve a more rewarding learning experience throughout their academic life at HKU, particularly but not confined to, team work.

Objective:

Our students currently graduate are equipped with the professional knowledge required to handle the demands of their respective disciplines. A formally facilitated learning experience designed to enhance their emotional and social behavioral qualities will, we believe, enhance their initial comprehensive and professional educational and equip them for a lifetime of learning and leadership.

Results:

The evaluation of the programme indicated that objectives were broadly met for those students who completed the programme and there was evidence of positive impact and change related to the 7 specific objectives. The quantitative analysis was limited due to low response and attrition rates. However, qualitative comments indicated that students had benefitted, learnt and made positive changes in diverse areas.

There was a challenge with disengaged students in the first run and there was considerable drop out during the two days. This was likely the result of a number of factors including: students delayed arrival very late in Shanghai on the night before the programme; a very late and unsatisfactory start to the workshop, in part due to very poor internet connection during the administration of the initial self-efficacy survey and tiredness and annoyance on the part of the students. This prevented a tight and engaging start to the two days. The students were also less willing to engage and mix across the two disciplines than was anticipated, so the mixed discipline groups were not well received.

During the first workshop the facilitators adjusted the programme to increase relevance and engagement and to allow more choice but in the end a smaller group of committed students from both disciplines remained for the duration of the two days and were overall highly engaged.

Changes were made to the second run of the programme, such as: requesting students to complete their self-efficacy surveys prior to the programme, making the students to apply for and to be admitted to the workshop and adjusting the content, framing and delivery of the workshop.

Overall, these changes resulted in a more positive and engaging experience, a better learning environment and arguably better outcomes and impact for the students.

The response rates for the pre-programme self-efficacy surveys was high for both workshops but the dropout rate during the first workshop resulted in much lower response rates for the 1st post programme self-efficacy survey and a very low response rate for the 2nd survey, 6 weeks later. The rate was better for the second workshop but, despite a series of reminders, there was still a high attrition rate for the 2nd post programme survey since the particpants (all BAAS 4) have left the university and entered the job market.

Outputs:

Two-day workshop at the HKU Shanghai Study Centre(HKUSSC) in Shanghai during Fall 2015 – Creativity Learning Module (for 30 (BAAS 3)students and 30 BSc(Surv) students)

During the workshops, students were provided with:

  • Guidance in goal setting.
  • Detailed interpretation of their own data.
  • A framework for understanding themselves and for understanding others (i.e. the range of different motivations, behaviors and needs to enable them to calibrate their own).
    Experiential learning through two collaborative creative exercises.
  • A framework for understanding different aspects of and expressions of creativity.
  • A model for communicating with others based on the other person‟s broad underlying needs.
  • A range of perspectives and advice on making career choices, transitioning into the marketplace and developing their careers in line with their motivations and strengths; advice on and practical applications of their career matching data.
  • Reflection booklets were used throughout the two days for students to capture their learning and action points.

Two-day workshop in Hong Kong during Spring 2016 – Preparing Yourself for the Marketplace Workshop (for 15 (BAAS 4) students)

In this second workshop, the students were also:

  • Introduced to a methodology for explaining themselves to others, e.g. in an interview, personal statement, to new work colleagues, managers etc.
  • They captured their key motivators, de-motivators, styles, stress triggers and reactions and preferred activities and contributions to projects and work contexts and practiced articulating these to each other.
  • Given some insight into how to identify their „blind spots‟ in terms of broad perspectives such as strategic/innovative thinking, admin/systems, selling/communicating and delivering results.
  • Provided with guidance on how to build their own resilience and strength given their personal underlying needs.
  • This workshop included the option for students to have a one on one mentoring session relating to their
    self-understanding and career direction/choices.

Students were asked to complete 3 self-efficacy surveys (one immediately before the programme, one immediately after and one 6 weeks after the programme. They also completed an evaluation of the programme at the end of the workshop. Data from these surveys was analyzed to evaluate the impact of the programme on student‟s levels of self-awareness and confidence in the areas of self-regulating their learning, seeking support, career direction, leading and working in teams and demonstrating creativity.

Anticipated impact:

The programme was shown to be effective for the participating students in terms of the topics covered and the benefits gained. These could inform the curriculum and improve learning outcomes in the following ways:
-Enhancing the experience of students working in project teams. The simple data relating to individual style, need and preferred contribution as well as style of communication would enable students to work more productively together with less misunderstanding and conflict. Taking one or two hours at the start of team projects to explore and share differences would provide significant benefit.
-Supporting students to adopt effective learning strategies based on their profiles could impact their academic achievement.
-Providing teaching staff with data on their students‟ styles and preferences would provide staff with the insight to support individual students or to tailor their teaching methodologies to engage with diverse students more effectively.

Architectural Design 3 Studio

Studio Brief

The studio is part of the experiential learning that requires students to study abroad for the entire semester at the Shanghai Study Centre of the Faculty of Architecture, HKU.

Hong Kong and Shanghai have different social, political, climatic and spatial characteristics. We are interested in how these local specificities shape spatial and architectural expression. What are the driving forces behind civic space making: Context, Structure, Program, Circulation, Climate and Density? How does a civic building express itself differently between Hong Kong and Shanghai? We want to engage in a dialogue of different function within a civic building and to explore different design methodologies.

The final outcome of the studio is a mixed-use municipal building sited within a residential neighborhood.  As both Hong Kong and Shanghai have a different understanding on what municipal building is, students begin by analyzing the unique social and cultural mixed of a given residential area.  They are encouraged to engage into dialogues and interviews with the local residents in order to draw their own conclusions on what program elements are suitable for the mixed-use building.  Student will also learn how specific architectural parameters, such as Structure, Program and Circulation, inform the making of space and the built environment. Subsequently students are to develop speculative proposals based on their critical understanding on the data collected and issues investigated.  The final design of the mixed-use building type is the culmination of synthesizing the research data, the understanding of typology evolution and site specificities in order to engage in a new architectural dialogue with the city.

The Fate of Form…Understanding Architectural forms through Fashion

The transformation of Hong Kong’s industrial areas and buildings had not kept pace with the economic restructuring and relocation of traditional manufacturing activities to the Mainland since the early 1980’s. Many industrial buildings are now vacant or under-utilized. There are currently 1,476 private industrial buildings in the metro area and new towns in Hong Kong with a total floor area of 17.3 million m2. With a vacancy rate of 8%, the total vacant floor area is about 1.4 million m2.

Hong Kong has witnessed a rapid infrastructural development on its western side. From the heated discussion yet still pending proposals of the WKCD to the controversial approval of the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou, the optimistic approach (by the HKSAR Government) of relying on the exchange of people, goods, culture and information to the Mainland becomes a standard protocol.

Scenarios

Cheung Sha Wan is one of the oldest districts located along the now so called “Hong Kong Westside Corridor.” Most factories’ operations have been relocated to further north of the border from this area once populated by garments and textile factories. There are about 113 private industrial buildings left and had been converted to mostly generic commercial buildings.

Objectives

The studio aims to investigate the harsh truth of economic, cultural and political realities that rendered the factory almost a meaningless building carcass. It raises questions on the transcendental nature of architectural forms, tectonics, and program. Studio Methodology

The Studio coursework is composed of two parts:
The first part begins with an investigation on a household object/item selected from the IKEA store. Students are asked to reinvent or redefine the function of the object through their own “surgical” insertion to the object. Inevitably a new design language (conceptual and formal) will be developed via this formal transformation. Detailed drawings of the newly redefined object are to be recorded and it will form the conceptual basis of development for the second part of the studio.

The second part of the studio would be to design a new HUB for a REDIFINITION of the Fashion and Textile Industry. The final design project aims to conceptually link the WKCD to the south and the migrating manufacturing sector to the north. The HUB should include, but not limited to, fashion designers’ studio, a 24-hours cinema, a Fashion and textile Museum, A fashion runway catwalk exhibition Hall, a fabric research center and a new dormitory for a Fashion Institute.

Architecture & Urban Design I (ARCH 4002) – Sculpting in Time: Cinema, Housing, and Genius Loci

The title of the studio is borrowed from a book written by the famous Russian filmmaker/artist Andrey Tarkovsky (1932-1986) in which he talked about a constant paradoxical struggle of storytelling through visual imageries. Time is materialized according to him and therefore, it is able to be compressed and expanded at will through the hands of the director. Associative Thinking in Psychology is generally regarded as the mental process of making associations between a given subject and all pertinent present factors without drawing on past experience.  The seemingly “free-falling” nature of the studio aims to arouse the non-cognitive aspect of the design process where one could possibly benefit from it.  In this instance, Time is at the core which will be “associated” with three distinctive elements which deal with the issue of time respectively: Cinematic experience, Housing typological evolution and Site historical transformation: Students are asked to form in teams to make their own short movie clips to highlight aspects of time manipulation through visual imageries and storytelling technique through studying the works of Tarkovsky, Fruit Chan and Akira Kurosawa.  The subject of the short movie clip was on the public housing evolution.  Research on public housing typological development since the Shek Kip Mei fire in 1953 was conducted as well. Combining the outcome of these aspects forms the basis of the final project which will be a new public housing project for the Kwuntong District. The objective of the studio is to reveal to students that Architecture is deeply engaged in the metaphysical questions of the self and the world, interiority and exteriority, time and duration, life and death.  The studio aims at bringing to discussion the methodology of design through creative visual representation and sounding research and the possibilities in designing and developing public housing in a hyper-dense city such as Hong Kong.

Architecture & Urban Design I – Pivoting Point: Vanishing Wanchai

The objective of the studio was twofold: It was to give students an opportunity to understand and acknowledge the vast possibilities in approaching urban renewal project and the theoretical position an architect can take regarding conservation.  The studio acted as a platform for students to investigate and understand the history of modern art and design movement in Hong Kong of which most of the current generation of local artists/designers are in debt to.

The site of the studio project was located at 99 Kennedy Road, next to the International Methodist Church in Wanchai, Hong Kong.  A three storey building built in 1950s with a site area of 1200SM, it was currently occupied by the Department of Health as the Wanchai Chest Clinic.  The clinic was a typical of building from that era with its completely non descriptive facades and no nonsense building plan. It provided a potentially fertile ground for the studio to investigate what could be the new found definition on conservation in contemporary Hong Kong.

The studio combined research findings generated from the tangibles and the intangibles. The studio began with the studying on the works of two prominent local artists: Wucius Wong and Kan Tai Keung, followed by a visit to Wong’s artist studio.  Together with the research on Site, History, Conservation, Community, Program and Economics of Wanchai district, students were asked to derive a building program to form a “working museum” which took into account of the challenges presented by the historical and cultural context of the district, the original building and the physical site.

Alice Pun, Volumetric Adaptor, 2011

Volumetric Adaptor

With the changing social structure in Hong Kong, more and more people become single or small-sized families, but the supply of public housing units for different household sizes has not changed for years, mainly due to the planar design approach that prioritizes spatial and economic efficiency. With the transition of basic component from family to individual, existing public housing policy and specifically the gross generalization of design approach should be reviewed. There is an urgency to develop a balanced and up-to-date system in the public sector.

People undergo status change from time to time in a lifetime, which can alter the way they use and their expectation toward a house. This thesis proposes a new strategy, using cubic manner, to design and evaluate the quality of space.