Bus Station Feng Shui

[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/6776672[/vimeo] One of the things that makes Hong Kong’s incessant concrete and frequently bland architecture so bearable is that public spaces attract a kind of cultural detritus the way a bookshelf attracts dust. It only takes a few years for newly-built spaces to feel well-used and lived-in. Bus stations are a good example. Often built […]

Unbuilt Cities

Satellite views of California City (above) and Lehigh Acres (below) from Google Maps The world is filled with mad dreams only partly come to life. In Eastern Europe, half-built skyscrapers that neither communist governments nor their free market-friendly successors could complete form ironic landmarks, totems of ideological overconfidence. In China’s Inner Mongolia province, authorities built […]

Coffee and a Newspaper

Café Myriade, Mackay Street, Montreal

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Rooftop Gardening

Container gardening is the ultimate form of urban greening: space-efficient, low-maintenance and productive. People in Hong Kong have been doing it for generations. Last summer, on a sunny but oppressively hot day, I found myself on the roof of a 1960s-era highrise apartment building in Kwun Tong. Among the lines of billowing laundry were several […]

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Mile End in 1840

Montreal seen from Mile End, 1840 One of the old Gazette articles I referred to in my post about the revival of the name Mile End also contains a nice description of Mile End in 1840, when it was sparsely-populated farmland a good 20-minute carriage ride from the edge of Montreal. It comes from Joseph […]

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The Resurrection of Mile End

Mile End Station, built in 1878, rebuilt in 1911 and demolished in 1936 The name Mile End might now be associated with Montreal’s trendiest neighbourhood (a distinction that will surely move elsewhere in a few years), but three decades ago, it was in danger of extinction. Though the area north of Mount Royal Avenue was […]

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Tongren Road’s Last Stand

This is a collection of pictures of the last night the infamous Tongren Road strip was open and functioning. Tongren Road runs right through the commercial heart of the Jing An district in Shanghai. A very small strip (like half a block) of this road was one of many red light districts that are scattered […]

The Hockey Sweater

Though it’s not actually a film about Christmas, I’ve always associated Sheldon Cohen’s “The Sweater” with the holiday season, maybe because it evokes all of the bittersweet feelings that come with receiving an eagerly-awaited gift, only to discover that it isn’t quite what you wanted. It’s also probably the most quintessentially hivernal of all the […]

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A/C/City

Air conditioning is a bit like a narcotic: once it claws its way into your life, you begin changing yourself to accommodate its demands. When air conditioning became common in Hong Kong, it changed the very fabric of the city, shrinking windows, destroying verandahs, turning streets into dripping, humming corridors meant to serve the useful […]

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Excavating the Present

In the most remote corner of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale‘s West Kowloon site, three architects, Kingsley Ng, Syren Johnstone and Daniel Patzold, are digging up Hong Kong’s heritage from virgin land. The concept: it’s several centuries into the future and an old street market has been discovered, leading to an archaeological race to save […]

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Hong Kong’s Wild West

Last Sunday, Clara Lee and her nine-year-old daughter Hoi-ching were wandering through the craggy grass and gnarly trees that make up the West Kowloon site of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture. “It’s big here!” exclaimed Hoi-ching. “I don’t often go to the countryside.” “Actually,” said her mother, “this is not the […]

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The Many Chinese Words for “Lane”

Suoyi Hutong, Beijing There’s several different names in English for small, secondary streets that run between blocks or behind major roads. Alley and lane are the words most often used in North America, but there’s significant variation in the UK, where regional words like vennel, chare, wynd, twitten and jigger are common. It’s a similar […]

Taxi Triptych

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Hydro Pole Art

I found these plaques attached to a few hydro poles on Esplanade Avenue between Bernard and Saint-Viateur. I like how the copper plate etchings are a mischievous response to the official Hydro-Québec plates that are normally found on the poles. The wood one is striking for the way it mimics the natural texture of the […]

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