Traversing the Transect: Reconsidering Village Development at Lei Yue Mun

This course explored the core skills and practices related to landscape planning and site design and in the context of the surroundings of Lei Yue Mun (literally Carp’s Gate), a village and former quarry site located at the eastern gateway into Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. By beginning with sectional analyses, students were to come up with landscape systems strategies that tackle the environmental, social, and cultural issues of the site that are related across multiple scales—from the detail of an edge, to the structure and organization of community spaces, and ultimately, to larger contexts of the area. The concept of the ‘transect’ organized the research, site explorations, and design this semester. The transect is an important conceptual model and planning tool in landscape planning and design. It suggests a way of working that is sectional rather than planar, and systematically considers the characteristics and dynamics within and across transect zones. Habitats, communities, and infrastructure at steep site are often linearly organized along contour lines — the use of transects imply an ambition to cut across these layers, discovering the relationships between them and to the form, substrates, and topography of the site. As a form of sectional exploration, the transect also implies an approach to site that is deeply layered and concerned with the materials and structures below the ground, or the flows and atmospheres that rise above it.

In Between the Collective and the Individual: Co-designing with Multiple Communities in Shek Kip Mei

The fourth BA(LS) design studio intends to introduce students to the core concepts of community design through research, dialogue, and design production. As an introduction to community design methods, the design process emphasizes the necessity to understand the complex and dynamic nature of communities; the development of empathy and trust; the application of appropriate tools and sensitive approaches to design together with the stakeholders and create designs that cater to the different needs of the many different parties involved; and finally, the consideration of programme and the different types of boundaries and gradual transitions between varying degrees of publicness among different community spaces. The principles of community design will be applied to the Shek Kip Mei area, which is the first public housing neighbourhood in Hong Kong. Over the years, the Shek Kip Mei Estate has been redeveloped several times since its first appearance as resettlement housing as an aftermath of the 1953 Shek Kip Mei fire. The study area of this studio covers the larger Shek Kip Mei area roughly defined by Tai Po Road, Cornwall Street, Nam Shan Estate, and the Tai Hang Tung Estate (refer to Studio Map). The area is defined by two hills, a general topography that slopes up towards the northern direction and characterised by a predominantly public housing landscape that is situated between the private developments of Shamshuipo and Kowloon Tong.