A Walk Around Luen Wo Market

Hong Kong’s gloomy winter chill has set in, and with no indoor heating, the best thing to do on a cold day is to set off for a brisk walk. That’s what I did two weeks ago when I took the train up to Fanling, the last major suburb before the border with Shenzhen, where […]

An Afternoon in Taipa

Macau is selling its soul to the gods of gambling but there are still places to admire the city as it once was. One of those places, surprisingly enough, is the old village of Taipa, just a poker chip’s throw away from the grotesqueries of Cotai, the reclaimed land now home to casinos like the […]

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Rethinking Urban Renewal in Hong Kong

This is a feature story that was originally published in the July 2010 edition of Muse magazine. The photos accompanying this article were taken around the Graham Street Market in Central. Standing in the soggy heat of a late spring afternoon, Katty Law reflected on the irony that it took a movie a mere two […]

How to Lose a Sense of Place

You can’t touch the sculpture in front of Langham Place. It’s a nice bronze piece by Larry Bell, and it looks great from a distance, but if people touched it, their oily hands would ruin the metal. So there’s a security guard stationed out front, all day, every day, to make sure nobody crawls onto […]

Saving an Historic Site — Then What?

When Cynthia Lee Hong-yee found out that her family planned to sell her grandfather’s private garden to developers, she returned from the United States to take photos of the lush greenery and eclectic Western-influenced Chinese architecture. “I was capturing some of the details and I realized I just couldn’t capture Dragon Garden’s greatness,” she said. […]

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The View from West Kowloon

The biennale of architecture and urbanism that took place in West Kowloon earlier this year was underfunded and underattended, but it was also an example of what shape Hong Kong’s future “cultural district” could take. The official plans call for museums, concert halls, public squares and other well-defined, well-regulated spaces, but what the biennale showed […]

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The Old Mid-Levels

Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels has always been a wealthy place, home first to the city’s Western elite and then to a broader mix of local and expatriate professionals. Its narrow, hilly streets were once lined by mansions, rowhouses and lowrise apartment blocks, but that has gradually given way to a kind of vertical suburbia where giant […]

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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 […]

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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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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Historical Sleuthing

Photo by David Bellis The best way to learn about a city is to simply wander the streets: eventually, something will catch your attention, like an odd-looking cornice or the way a road curves, and you’ll ask yourself why it is the way it is. Idle curiosity is how I began my research on Montreal’s […]

Too Dirty to Swim

Lido Beach Tsuen Wan, west of Kowloon, is known more as an industrial and commercial hub than as a seaside getaway. But until the early 1990s, the district’s seven sandy beaches, which stretch out along the Rambler Channel, were among the most popular in Hong Kong. As pollution from raw sewage worsened in the 1990s […]

The Son’s House: Hong Kong’s Plexes

Ding uk in Kam Sham Village, Tai Po I never thought I’d find a triplex in Hong Kong but it turns out there’s thousands of them. While Montreal’s triplexes were mostly built in the early twentieth century, the ones in Hong Kong, known in Cantonese as ding uk, are actually fairly recent. While ding uk […]

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Where High Rises Grow from Rice Paddies

Urbanphoto is pleased to welcome our newest contributor, Sam Massie, who is en route to Kunming, Yunnan, where he is starting a new job with a Chinese NGO. He will blog about urban spaces in southwestern China. Ever wonder where chandeliers come from? The answer is usually Guzhen, a city in China’s Guangdong province that […]

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