THE STREET STUDIO

In late Modern city planning, street design was almost entirely driven by traffic planning parameters with moderate consideration for vegetation. Today, from the homeless population in LA’s Skid Row and London’s tunnels, to the surveillance system deployed via street cams in Beijing and Hong Kong, from Google’s much contested Sidewalk Labs pilot in Toronto, to the pink Pussyhats and the yellow vests, the street in the new millenia is nothing short of the new frontier of cultural expression, public discourse and technological transformation.

Thus in the streets around the world, along with the apparent as well as latent fault lines of social fabrics and technological apparatuses, profound fractures can be seen everywhere. Domesticity of the disenfranchised confronts civility; camouflage tactics evades state control; the under-represented parades in a rainbow of colors. The old discourse of street design rooted in managerial ethos is fundamentally insufficient. With critical urgency, a new discourse fueled by new polemics needs to be forged in the emergent void.

In this studio, we research the new players in the street, rediscover past experimentations that might still offer relevance and study possible new typologies that might be constitutive of a contemporary discourse.

On the island of Hong Kong vibrant street life and informal cultural
activities take place in the shadows of high-rise developments amassing global capital. Traffic congestion dominates the urban experience and the social space oscillates violently between control and liberty. We map the studio project onto a decade-long advocacy of pedestrianizing a stretch of DVRC (Des Voeux Road Central). We observe and document the various constituencies fighting for the precious ground here. We situate ourselves in the near future where smart mobility has reduced congestion in Central significantly, freeing up DVRC to become a new kind of public space shaped by its own time and people.