Urban Furniture for Hung Fook Street

To Kwa Wan, Hong Kong

To Kwa Wan is a vibrant district of Hong Kong; an older mix of industrial and residential neighbourhoods that until recently have been untouched by contemporary urban redevelopment. There are many informal public spaces and a special local character. What does the future hold for these areas?
Workshops provide an opportunity for us to talk with local people and get to understand their community. Focusing on the cultural value of the area, we undertook research with members of To Kwa Wan community to generate ideas for dealing with street space and recycled materials, and to inform a new design for a community gathering point.

Tokwawan is an area of Hong Kong facing significant urban redevelopment. Older low-rise buildings are purchased by developers to be rebuilt as speculative high-rise residential towers with the process being facilitated by a statutory body that encourages redevelopment. In the current period, a complex influx of affluent residents, minority groups, and migrants from China are affecting the social and cultural fabric, as well as the physical urban environment. For this project we propose a community living room to address the conflicts in the area; by allowing different communities to coexist and engage with one another, we question what development can mean and ask if gentrification is inevitable.
Using workshops as a research tool, we engage with existing communities to understand the architectural and cultural quality of the area – including craftmanship, textures, and human relationships. Our proposed design is a structure that may appear temporary – like a bamboo scaffolding, which could be taken down anytime – yet could stand resilient for next 30 years. The structure takes the ideas of permanence and transience and acts as a community gathering point under an existing flyover area. The unfinished structure allows different people to adapt it, to give it life, and possibly take ownership.
For the incoming community the structure may be a museum of culture for learning about an old way of life; for the existing community it may be an area to express their craftmanship and safeguard their interests. Will there be winners and losers, or can all communities live in harmony?

August 2016
Initiated By:
St. James’ Settlement ('To Home' House of Stories)
Site Area:
Maggie Ma, Mark Kingsley, Luka Ng, Adeline Chan, Vincent Tse, Brian Kam, Tanya Tsui, Echo Xiang, Calvin Liang, Jo Shen, Jenny Tang, Rosalia Leung, Wanting Yim