Architecture & Urban Design III (ARCH 5001) – Urban Spine Parasite

Hong Kong, like many major cities, is facing an acute problem of land shortage in urban areas. Creating housing in underutilized highway undersides was once considered, but this was met with much ridicule. New construction is inherently energy-intensive, and often requires vastly irreversible groundwork to build on virgin ground. Construction over or under public infrastructure (e.g. roads, walkways, etc.) has its precedence in other places, and should be considered as a viable solution for informally, incrementally, and parasitically solving the urban density problem.

In this light, the studio was tasked to study the Wan Chai pedestrian bridge (which links Immigration Tower and Wanchai MTR station) as an urban spine, and find opportunities to positively activate the neighborhood by injecting a prescribed set of live/work and community center programs.

The approach of the studio was to find opportunities to parasitically inhabit the pedestrian overpass, while maintaining and enhancing the function of the overpass as an urban spine. The studio’s goal was to propose interventions that strive toward positively activating the site and render the project as a socially, culturally, and economically feasible proposal. The studio sought to foster a systemic understanding of urban infrastructure, and develop schemes that contemplate the quality of space created by the integration of program and various systems of urban infrastructure into the dense urban fabric of Wan Chai.