Tear gas, banned in warfare under the Geneva Protocol except in the use for riot control, has been used extensively throughout the city since Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protests began in June 2019. Over 16,000 rounds were fired in a 6-month period (dated 8/12/2019) in this densely populated urban landscape. Playgrounds, shopping malls, MTR stations, nursing homes and residential areas have all been infiltrated by these formless toxic clouds.
Hong Kong civilians are not only physically, but psychologically, socially and environmentally impacted by the police response to the protests. The dense nature of Hong Kong’s built environment has resulted in residential neighbourhoods being affected by the use of tear gas – entering through civilians’ windows, stairwells, cracks in the built fabric, air ducts and building ventilation systems to displace breathable air in residential spaces – transforming them into temporary “gas-chambers.”
Our studio adopts investigative practices developed by Forensic
Architecture in order to map the effects of tear gas in the city and to
analyse how the system of architecture presents itself as an accomplice, weaponised by the choreography of the clashes between police and protesters. From the scale of the object, to the individual dwelling and the urban environment, we will examine how complex social, political and architectural forces entangle across multiple strata of the city.