The Best Tram in the World

As the tram lurched past the dried seafood shops of Des Voeux Road, a cool breeze passing through its open windows, passengers were served a round of cocktails. “Do you reckon this is the best tram in the world at the moment?” asked one woman sipping an Old Fashioned. “I think so,” replied another. Needless […]

Value Creation

If UABB Hong Kong was greeted by a storm of controversy, its counterpart in Shenzhen went off without a hitch. “Cocktails and happiness! No protest at all!” wrote one participating artist on Facebook. This year, UABB Shenzhen — which bills itself as the “world’s only biennale dedicated exclusively to the themes of urbanism and urbanization” […]

Talking About Cities Without Ground

Hong Kong isn’t an easy city to navigate. That’s because so much of it exists out of sight: above your head, under your feet, around the corner in a dingy shopping mall. It’s what architect Jonathan Solomon calls a three-dimensional city. “There are all these attempts to map Hong Kong, but most of them are […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Books, History, Interior Space, Maps, Public Space, Society and Culture, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Talking About Cities Without Ground , , , , ,

Primordial Hong Kong

Like a fever dream or a David Lynch film, Wun Dun begins with a journey into the unknown. Push through an unmarked door into what appears to be a bathroom, where an elderly attendant spritzes you with cologne. Squeeze past him, stumble down a flight of stairs and emerge into an uncanny, neon-lit bar that […]

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, […]

Fleet Street in the Far East

This story was originally published in 2010. See the postscript for an update. In 1974, as a typhoon bears down on Hong Kong, a gangly twenty-seven-year-old Vietnam War reporter named Luke stands in the toilets of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Head ringing, hung over, he washes blood out of his mouth—he just fought in a […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, History, Interior Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Fleet Street in the Far East , ,

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 […]

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 , , , , ,

Transit After Hours

Even in well-behaved cities, late-night public transit often veers into the debauched, as well-lubricated straphangers make their way home from bars. People in Toronto call overnight buses “vomit comets”; passengers riding Hong Kong’s red minibuses are informed by prominent signs that they will be charged HK$300 if “your vomitus smears the carriage.” So it’s almost […]

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The Space Between Notes

Rendering of the Xiqu Centre Early December was a busy time for Bing Thom. First, there was his 72nd birthday, followed shortly by an announcement that the renowned Canadian architect had won the competition to design the new Xiqu Centre in Hong Kong, the first of 17 cultural venues to be built in the West […]

The Sacred Food Court

Seats of imperial power are often regarded with a certain reverence — they provoke admiration, astonishment, even fear. That’s certainly the case in New Delhi, where British colonialists built a series of massive, belittling monuments to their rule, or in Washington, DC, where the Mall is increasingly seen by its National Park Service administrators not […]

Architects Who Understand

The Venice Biennale of Architecture closes this week, which has given me opportunity to think back to its opening days in late August. I was there to cover the Hong Kong exhibition, but I had a bit of time to soak up the rest of the show. It was big, unruly and dramatically uneven, but […]

Morning Coffee: Caffè Elena, Torino

Marchant dans les pas de Mark Twain, Nietzsche et bien d’autres, je parcours Turin, longeant d’un rythme paresseux ces rues longues et rectilignes, encadrées d’arcades si émouvantes de par leur charme démodés et franchement surannées. Je trouve quelques chemises, dans une de ces nouvelles boutiques qui pullulent de plus en plus, jouxtant de vieilles échoppes […]

Posted in: Europe, Interior Space by Daniel Corbeil Comments Off on Morning Coffee: Caffè Elena, Torino , , , ,