A Revolution in Place

It has been more than four months since Occupy Hong Kong’s pro-democracy encampments were cleared away, but the Umbrella Revolution continues to evolve. More than a protest in favour of genuine universal suffrage, the 79-day occupation sparked a “revolution in public consciousness.” Among the notions being overturned: Hong Kong’s neoliberal approach to managing the urban […]

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 […]

Taipei’s Urban Regeneration

Treasure Hill. Photo by Wunkai It’s a scorchingly hot afternoon in Taipei and cicadas are buzzing loudly outside the Treasure Hill Temple. A man in cycling gear stops to take a swig of water before turning towards the temple’s statue of Guanyin, the Chinese goddess of mercy. He clasps his hands and bows three times, […]

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 […]

Creative Urbanity in Taipei

Treasure Hill, Taipei. Photo by the Kozy Shack When Chou Yu-jui was growing up near Yongkang Street, an old part of Taipei near two of the city’s universities, it was a quiet neighbourhood of wooden Japanese cottages, small shops and back alleys filled with potted plants. Ten years ago, it started to change. Small cafés, […]

Guerilla Warfare in Everyday Space

Tin roofs of a hawker’s bazaar in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong When I first came across Charles Labelle’s ongoing Buildings Entered project, I was intrigued by the questions it raised about how we relate to the spaces we inhabit. This led me to think about one of the things that has most fascinated me since […]

A Creature on the Roof

You can see a lot of unauthorized structures on the rooftops of Wan Chai — sheet metal canopies, rusted chain-link fences, hand-built wooden shacks — but none of them quite looks like KAPKAR, a new sculpture by Dutch artist Frank Havermans, which was installed last week on the roof of the Wan Chai Visual Archive. […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on A Creature on the Roof , , , , ,

Rooftop Dystopia

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEpjnRwLrco[/youtube] Two years ago, I spent a lot of time exploring the rooftop squatter villages that spread across the city like mushrooms on a tree stump. There’s an eerie feeling that comes over you as you walk through these settlements. Weeds poke through cracks in concrete walls; birds chirp and cicadas whir in the hot […]

Night at the Typhoon Shelter

On a pleasantly warm evening last November, my thoughts wandered over to the nighttime activity at the Sai Wan pier and I wondered if the same sort of thing happened at the nearest bit of waterfront to my apartment, the New Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter. I grabbed my camera, stepped out of the door, […]

What’s Left of the Kowloon Walled City

Earlier this week, the urban issues magazine Next American City tweeted a link to an illustrated cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City, the world’s greatest informal settlement. It gives you a good idea of just how intense the level of human activity within the city was: one room a factory, the next a bedroom, the […]

Seen and Unseen: Street View Meets Brazil

View Larger Map A colorful crossing in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro Google Street View has landed in Brazil, and its timing is probably no accident: it’s a momentous point in the country’s history. Latin America’s sleeping giant seems, at last, to be climbing into its proper place in the global pecking order: it’s an increasingly […]

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 […]

Hong Kong Rooftops: A Village, Ten Stories Up

Wandering down narrow lanes, past rows of makeshift houses, I could be standing in a squatter’s village in the New Territories. Potted plants sigh in the heavy heat of summer. Door gods peel from wooden entranceways. It is quiet. But I’m not in a village — I’m ten stories above a narrow street in Tai […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Hong Kong Rooftops: A Village, Ten Stories Up , , , , , ,

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 […]