The Urban Space of Occupied Hong Kong

What surprised me most was the silence. Here I was, standing on what is normally an eight-lane funnel of angry traffic, and the only sounds I could hear were footsteps and the soft murmur of voices. Free of diesel exhaust, the briny scent of the harbour lingered in the air, and a warm breeze ruffled […]

Hong Kong’s Guerrilla Gardeners

It’s not easy to find the Mango King. “Do you want to go the safe way? Or the quick way?” asks Michael Leung, a designer and urban farming advocate, as we walk past the wholesale fruit market in Hong Kong’s Yau Ma Tei district, halfway up the Kowloon Peninsula. We opt for the quick way, […]

Before Sandy

The sun was burning through morning fog as I walked down Hoyt Street to the subway, the Williamsburg Savings Bank half-shrouded like in some imaginary Gotham. By the time I reached Beach 59th Street, the sky was a deep blue. It was late October, but it felt like summer. I took off my sweater and […]

How to Ruin a Wonderful Space

The Devonian Gardens in 2007. Photo by norrix The Devonian Gardens were a wonderland. Located on the top floor of the TD Centre mall in downtown Calgary, the gardens were a fully-enclosed greenhouse of tropical plants and — best of all for a kid — a million nooks and crannies to explore. It seemed like […]

Private Paradise

There was a time when Hong Kong was full of strange and wonderful private gardens. There was a Spanish-style garden built by a Catholic missionary on Seymour Road. In Tai Hang, the seven-storey pagoda of Tiger Balm Garden could be seen for miles around. When Sir Robert Hotung built a second house on the Peak, […]

Rethinking Asia’s Public Spaces

Talking over dim sum at a busy Wan Chai restaurant, it doesn’t take much prompting for Christopher Law to reel off the failures of Hong Kong’s public spaces. “No matter how small the space is, they try to fence it off,” he says, taking of sip of pu-erh tea. “All the public seating is extremely […]

Hong Kong’s Silence on Noise Pollution

Sogo Junction in Causeway Bay, where ambient noise levels can reach 118 decibels. Photo by James Shandlon After Karl Sluis’ richly-detailed map of New York City noise complaints was featured on The Atlantic Cities, my editor at the South China Morning Post got in touch about making a similar map for Hong Kong. Hong Kong […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Environment, Maps, Public Space, United States by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Hong Kong’s Silence on Noise Pollution , , , , , , , , ,

Behind the Noise Map

If you read The Atlantic Cities, or follow our Twitter feed, you’ve probably seen Karl Sluis‘ map of the 40,412 noise complaints made last year in Manhattan. It’s a beautiful, richly-detailed effort to chart not only the geography of noise but more subtle variations in New York’s socio-economic landscape, like the fact that complaints about […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Environment, Maps, Public Space, United States by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Behind the Noise Map , , , , , , ,

What Sucks About Walking in Hong Kong

I often get angry when I walk around Hong Kong. This is one of the most fascinating cities in the world to explore — densely layered, pulsing with energy — but it’s also one of the most frustrating because of all the ways the pedestrian experience is undermined and made unpleasant. In the city with […]

The Seawall in all its Incarnations

Walking the length of Vancouver’s Seawall is a lesson in design fads and fashions. The Stanley Park stretch dates back to 1914 and is elegant in its simplicity; a rough-hewn stone wall threads its way around the park’s craggy shoreline, rainforest on one side and cool Pacific waters on the other. Near Granville Island, the […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Environment, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Seawall in all its Incarnations , , , , , , ,

Landscape = Architecture

Joel Sanders’ Broadway Penthouse Five years ago, New York-based architect Joel Sanders was renovating a downtown Manhattan penthouse when he ran into a problem. “There was a rooftop garden, and what we needed to figure out was how to connect it to the loft,” he says. “We decided to reverse Modernist convention. Instead of taking […]

Sakura Space

Human life and natural life are often seen to be at odds, so the points where they intersect — urban beaches, wall trees, overgrown vacant lots — feel wonderfully transgressive. Cities are such regulated environments that the intrusion of a self-governing natural element is disruptive and thrilling. That’s especially true around this time of year, […]

Walking in the City Without Ground

One of the first lessons of walking in Hong Kong: maps are your enemy. In a city with such dramatic topography, where private and public spaces blend together almost seamlessly, the best routes are not the most obvious. Take for example the 20-minute walk from the cafés of Star Street to the shops of Queen’s […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Environment, Interior Space, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Walking in the City Without Ground , , , , ,

La ville à l’échelle animale

Bobo-Dioulasso. Photo : Matthew Bradley Il est commun maintenant de dire d’une ville qu’elle est à l’échelle humaine. Il s’agit plutôt d’un compliment, généralement, mais a-t-on déjà vu une ville à l’échelle animale ? Je réponds oui, et j’y ai vécu un court instant. Il s’agit de Bobo-Dioulasso, une ville du Burkina Faso, petite en […]

Posted in: Africa and Middle East, Environment, Public Space, Society and Culture by Jean-Mathieu Nichols Comments Off on La ville à l’échelle animale , , , ,