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 […]

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, […]

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, […]

Food Trucks in Five Cities

It was one of my most memorable meals in Canada: fried, profoundly sweet local beets; a spicy stir-fried mélange of brussel sprouts and cauliflower; and British Columbia haddock served with naan and rice in a coconut curry. And it all came from a truck — actually, two trucks, to be precise, Le Tigre and Vij’s […]

A City Without Streets

Not too long ago, on a particularly glorious Sunday afternoon — the kind of sunny but cool day that happens all too rarely in Hong Kong — I took the MTR out to Po Lam station in Tseung Kwan O. Leaving the station, I walked along a linear park built atop the MTR tracks, which […]

Regrowth or Replacement?

HK Farm. Photo by Glenn Eugen Ellingsen Sweating in the bright Mediterranean sun, Glenn Eugen Ellingsen surveyed a little bit of Hong Kong in Venice. “It’s meant to be very organic,” he said, pointing to an array of wood planters, metal racks, video screens and exposed electrical wires. Ellingsen is one of the founders of […]

Hawker City

Not long ago, I was wandering around Kwun Tong trying to find an Indonesian restaurant. I arrived outside its front door only to find the shutter drawn, with a notice from the Urban Renewal Authority announcing that the property had been acquired for redevelopment. Then I looked around: nearly every storefront on the street was […]

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 […]

The Bamboo Theatre

Standing inside the cavernous belly of the 800-seat West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre, bamboo master Ying Che and her head worker, Sunny Yim, gaze up at their creation. “It’s very satisfying,” says Yim, a sturdy man with a boyish face who has been building bamboo theatres for nearly 40 years. “When you come to a performance, […]

Airing Your Laundry in Public

When I first came to Hong Kong, one of the most perplexing of park rules was “No hanging of laundry.” Surely that isn’t a problem, I thought. Do people really bring their wet laundry to the park to dry? As it turns out, they do. Though most people here have a washing machine in their […]

Chinese Gods, Good Fortune and a Waterfall

It was the perfect setting for a picnic. Under the shade of a few trees, next to the sloshing waves of the East Lamma Channel, we set down a blanket, some wine and some snacks and spent an afternoon watching the ships pass by. What more could we ask for? How about a waterfall? Oh, […]

Make Your Own Public Space

No cycling. No ball-playing. No gambling. No remote-controlled vehicles. No walking on the grass. No fun. Hong Kong’s public parks are burdened by so many rules, they end up discouraging the very thing that parks are meant to provide: an escape from the many stresses of urban life. The same is true for many of […]