Exploring Mei Foo

About four and a half years ago, when my girlfriend Laine and I were hunting for our first apartment in Hong Kong, her parents suggested we look in Mei Foo. We refused to even consider it. “It would be like living in a parking garage,” I said. Laine agreed. Lately, though, I have started to […]

The House on Derby Road

When property prices reach such outlandish heights as in Hong Kong, it creates some peculiar distortions in the local market. Whenever I walk around Kowloon Tong, a wealthy, low-rise neighbourhood not far from my apartment, I’m surprised by the number of derelict and seemingly abandoned houses. Kowloon Tong was first developed as a garden suburb […]

Collecting the Scraps of a Changing Shanghai

There was no reason to have entered what looked like a dumpster north of Wangjiamatou Lu (王家码头路) which was located in Shanghai’s Old Town, or known better to some as the former walled city of Nanshi (literally ‘southern town’ (南市)) — until a small head in pigtails poked out from behind the rusty doors and […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Interior Space, Society and Culture by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on Collecting the Scraps of a Changing Shanghai , , , ,

Tokyo’s Urban Bungalows

One of the greatest surprises I encountered when I visited Tokyo last spring was how quiet the city became when you ventured away from the train stations. The above photos were taken less than 15 minutes by foot from Shinjuku, one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs and the centre of a huge business, entertainment […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Tokyo’s Urban Bungalows , , , ,

Small Houses, Big Impact

Sam Wan was 10 years old when his father, an officer in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, died in the line of duty. Reeling from his death, Wan’s family moved from their Tsim Sha Tsui apartment back to their ancestral village, Tai Po Tsai, where they owned a small tile-roofed house. The year was […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, History, Politics, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Small Houses, Big Impact , , , , , ,

Le Corbusier Died and Nobody Noticed

On August 27th, the forty-fifth anniversary of the death of Swiss architect Le Corbusier slipped by with nobody noticing. His legacy, however, lives on in cities around the world. His idea was to make things better for people. Getting rid of substandard, unhealthy housing, and separating industry from residential areas was supposed to reform both […]

Cape Tin

A row of numbered tin shacks in Blikkiesdorp. Photo from the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Nestled in a sun-kissed valley amid coastal mountains, pastel-hued, historic Cape Town is arguably one of the world’s most beautiful cities. So it’s long been a rude awakening for first time visitors expecting to arrive amid its sweeping vistas and […]

Evening Paper

In April, I wrote about the Cheungs, who live in a condemned building in Kwun Tong. Years ago, they built shacks on their roofs and cage homes in their flat to rent to poor tenants. This photo was taken in the flat, which is still home to a few elderly people who live in the […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Interior Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Evening Paper , ,

Hong Kong Rooftops: Condemned

Forty years might not even be close to a lifetime for most people, but in Hong Kong, it’s enough to witness the birth and death of a neighbourhood. In the mid-1960s, when Cheung Cheuk-kuen and his wife, Cheung Tsui-lin, moved into a flat on the top floor of a building in Kwun Tong, it was […]

Green Experiments in Public Housing

Hong Kong’s public housing estates are going green. In recent years, the Housing Authority has been using its estates as laboratories for the latest green technologies, a move that could help reduce Hong Kong’s air pollution and encourage more sustainable building practices. Some of the authority’s latest efforts can be seen in Yau Lai Estate, […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Environment by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Green Experiments in Public Housing , , , ,

Bushwick Trailer Park

An indoor camper in Williamsburg. Photo by Johnny DeKam and Bree Edwards. Having successively appropriated so much Middle American iconography — from trucker hats to Pabst Blue Ribbon beer — some north Brooklyn hipsters may have decided that their living space ought to reach the same heights of irony as their wardrobes. Enter the Nut […]

Posted in: Interior Space, Society and Culture, United States, Video by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Bushwick Trailer Park , , ,

From Pasture to Projects

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHueOOgS9lM[/youtube] Curious about what the building his great-great-grandfather lived in was like, ex-Brooklynite Zach van Schouwen was soon researching the history of his entire street. The result is “The Block,” a series pen-and-ink drawings of how the stretch of Eldridge Street, between Stanton and Rivington on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, looked in every year since […]

Living on the Edge

Rooftop houses in Kwun Tong By the end of this year, Hong Kong’s Buildings Department plans to finish clearing illegal rooftop structures from single-staircase buildings, marking the end of a clearance programme that began in 2001. But illegal rooftop communities continue to thrive, fed by a shortage of centrally located public housing and perennially high […]

Taipei’s Japanese Bungalows

At some point or another, most of Asia was occupied by the Japanese, usually with disastrous consequences. But Taiwan is a bit different. From 1895 to 1945, Taiwan was a full-fledged Japanese colony, a legacy that continues to manifest itself in many subtle aspects of Taiwanese culture. Not the least of this is the urban […]