Going, Going, Gone?

Hong Kong isn’t a very graceful city, but that’s the word I would use to describe its corner buildings, which meet a junction with smooth lines and subtle verve. Buildings with rounded corners are friendly and sensitive to their surroundings, like a courteous houseguest, and they bring to mind the beautiful corner buildings that define the landscapes of many Spanish cities.

The German photographer Michael Wolf has documented many of Hong Kong’s corner buildings in a series inspired by the relentless cycle of urban destruction and construction — most of will soon be redeveloped into tall, inelegant buildings with crude architecture and contempt for their surroundings.

For the most part, Wolf focused on postwar buildings, but there are still a handful of prewar corner buildings that survive in Sham Shui Po and Cheung Sha Wan, two old Kowloon neighbourhoods that have only recently come under development pressure. These prewar buildings usually have large verandahs — enclosed with windows over the years — and arcaded sidewalks.

Unfortunately, despite their age and architectural significance, nobody is fighting to save them. There are just too many other battles to fight and working-class neighbourhoods like Sham Shui Po are often out of sight, out of mind. So the few old corner buildings that are left are being quickly demolished and replaced by hideous cookie-cutter apartment towers.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Tuesday May 11 2010at 11:05 am , filed under Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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