JJ Acuna travels around the Kwun Tong neighbourhood and picks out some of the Hong Kong highlights at the 2013 Biennale.
17 February, 2014
* This article is an abridge version of the story on theWanderlister+
The Kwun Tong area is currently undergoing a kind of development renaissance since the government will be putting in place an MTR connection here, in part to serve the newly opened Kai Tak Cruise Terminal designed by Foster + Partners on a strip of site that was once the Kai Tak Airport, which is parallel to the Kwun Tong Promenade… the site of the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism Architecture (UABB). Of course with any development, controversy always follows, and the UABB, a bi-annual event that seeks to question the urbanistic growth between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, was a target for activists who wanted to focus on the Government’s pro-development schemes in the Kwun Tong neighbourhood. Even some of the event organisers and partners were not allowed into the programme’s opening day of which Chief Executive, CY Leung was in attendance.
That said, here are some highlights from the Hong Kong exhibit that you should take note of:
EKEO (Energizing Kowloon East Office) Hong Kong Head Office Temporary Building – Designed by Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD)
According to their website, the EKEO office was set up in 2012 to “steer, supervise, oversee, and monitor the development of Kowloon East (Kwun Tong) with a view to facilitating its transformation into another premier CBD of Hong Kong.” The building currently highlights a study of a smart transportation system, using a rechargeable scooter bike, which can make use of existing buildings and alleyways to help promote new grassroots commercial ventures.
The most interesting part about this is actually the temporary building which houses the exhibition, designed by the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD). The building was completed in six months, taking three months for design, and three months for construction. Housing 20 staff members, the building used recycled freight containers for a modular scheme, as well as raw bamboo, low flow water technology, daylight sensors, and recycled aggregates to help lower its carbon footprint overall.
House of Red . House of Blue – Designed by Kacey Wong
Kacey Wong’s introverted House of Red . House of Blue pavilion is an open air library cocooned in a croissant-like pavilion made of burnt wood and chopped down tree trunks. The books in the pavilion, set amongst the seats and the trunks of trees, all focus on the subject of Hong Kong and China’s built environment and building culture.
Make Out City – Designed by Architectkidd, CHAT, Studiomake, Thingsmatter
Make Out City is an interesting formal work designed by Bangkok designers Architectkidd, CHAT, Studiomake, and Thingsmatter. All the pieces for this lookout platform with two seats were fabricated by hand in Bangkok and shipped to Hong Kong. According to the designers, the work “illustrates the hybridized manner in which [they] like to fabricate things. It is a long, skinny lookout platform [which allows] visitors to climb out and gaze out onto the water.” Additionally they wanted to point out that the piece is made of four separate components: stair, structure, platform, and periscope. Which I suppose is why it takes four designers to design the whole thing?
Kwun Tong Promenade Stage 1 – Designed by Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD)
I’m starting to really envy the city’s architectural and civil engineering arm ArchSD and CEDD, because it really seems they’ve got so much opportunity to play here and they take advantage of every creative aspect of it. These photos reflect the Phase 1 portion of the Kwun Tong Promenade project as outlined in the “Approved Kai Tak Outline Zoning Plan”, which stipulates the incorporation of a public urban promenade with furniture that help activate rest, play and exercise for its users. All of this is not really part of the Biennale, however the project, which was completed five years ago, is a really great example of simple urban solutions as an activated infrastructural play piece that residents can appropriate every day. The photos above reflect the children’s playground areas and seating zones for parents and family members. At the end of the park is an interesting landmark tower, whose design is derived from the heaps of recycled paper which was stacked on the original pier. The area used to flood so these stacks of paper used to float on the water as such. Fascinating.
Ideal City for Living – Designed by HK Farm, Honey & Salt
The team from HK Honey, an organisation of Hong Kong beekeepers, artists, and designers, spearheaded by Michael Leung, wanted to look at the concept of the “Ideal City For Living” not for us humans necessarily, but for plants which find themselves thriving in the edges between the planned and unplanned urban manifestations. In the exhibition, photographs and illustrations juxtapose the constructed and the natural and begs for us to question how much of the natural world can we really appropriate in our everyday.
2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism Architecture will run until 28 February 2014.
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