Building a Better Street Market

Photo by Shichao Zhao When a blaze in the Fa Yuen Street market killed nine people last November, it was Hong Kong’s street hawkers that took the fall. Even before arson investigators had discovered the source of the fire, the government’s Hawker Control Officers ordered market stalls to remove their awnings and reduce the size […]

Auto Invasion

Photo by Charlotte Huang Hong Kong’s not a big place, and with 28 million mainland Chinese visitors a year, it’s beginning to feel even more crowded than usual. The stress seems to have gotten to a lot of people. Over the past month, a handful of seemingly banal conflicts between Hongkongers and mainland tourists have […]

Rebuilding the Market Economy

It used to be routine: wake up, walk to the wet market and buy the day’s fresh ingredients for dinner. Markets have always been a part of Hong Kong life, but these days, they are losing ground to supermarkets, whose numbers have grown exponentially over the past two decades. Chain supermarkets Wellcome and Park’n’Shop now […]

The Ghosts of Oil Street

Oil Street. Photo by Eric To This story was originally published in the November 2010 edition of Muse, the new-defunct review of Hong Kong arts and culture. It was a hot night when I sat inside the cluttered studios of the pirate radio station FM 101, six floors up inside an industrial building in Kwun […]

Inside Foster’s Plan for West Kowloon

When Norman Foster won the international competition for the master plan of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong last spring, I was disappointed. I thought it was plug-and-play urbanism, a crowd-pleasing design that had too much in common with so many interchangeable urban neighbourhoods that have sprung up in the past 20 years. […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Environment, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Inside Foster’s Plan for West Kowloon , , , ,

Real-Life SimCity

The aroma of wood smoke is not one of the things I expected to smell when I moved to a new apartment on the 35th floor, but there’s a rooftop barbecue restaurant just down the street from my building and the smell often floats upwards. When I sit on my balcony, I can watch little […]

The City in an Art Museum

Paddling Home, Kacey Wong, 2010 It’s not often that you get a chance to build a museum from scratch, but that is exactly what’s happening in Hong Kong, where a long-awaited museum of contemporary art and visual culture will soon take shape. The 40,000-square-metre museum, known as M+ — short for Museum Plus — will […]

On the Waterfront: Tsim Sha Tsui

For a city defined by its harbour, Hong Kong has done a remarkable job of blocking people off from it. Highways, private development, cargo yards and storage depots take up more than 60 percent of Victoria Harbour’s shorelines. The rest of the harbourfront is a higgledy-piggledy network of disjointed promenades, some better than others. Luckily, […]

Hong Kong’s Bicycle Graveyards

Bicycle dump. Photo by Dickson Lee for the SCMP Sai Kung’s bicycle graveyard is back and bigger than ever. Last Wednesday, dozens of bikes were seen piled atop one another on a stretch of government land in the suburban Hong Kong district. It’s a symptom of a wider problem – an acute shortage of bicycle […]

Land Reclamation — At What Cost?

Construction of a new underground highway built on the last bit of land reclamation permitted in Victoria Harbour If you are reading this somewhere in Hong Kong, odds are you’re sitting on a piece of land that was once a part of the sea. Since 1851, more than 60 square kilometres of land has been […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Environment, History, Politics, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Land Reclamation — At What Cost? , , , ,

A Place for Bikes in the Heart of Hong Kong?

Imagine it’s a beautiful autumn day in Hong Kong. The summer’s humidity has vanished and you’re out enjoying the fine weather, bicycling along Victoria Harbour. You pass the Star Ferry pier, the new government headquarters at Tamar, then Victoria Park, all the while gazing out at the jade green water. That was the vision presented […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Public Space, Society and Culture, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on A Place for Bikes in the Heart of Hong Kong? , , , , , ,

The Sounds of Hong Kong

Street performer on Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok Hong Kong is rich in visual symbols: a glittering skyline, red market lamps, green trams. But when you close your eyes and think of Hong Kong, what do you hear? That’s what Lawal Marafa, a professor of geography at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is trying […]

Neon’s Slow Exit from Hong Kong

Yue Hwa in 2005. Photo by choco_late The Yue Hwa Chinese Products department store has stood at the corner of Jordan and Nathan roads for decades — and for decades, so did its big neon sign, a sentinel that marked the passage north into the seedy streets of Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok. Sometime […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Neon’s Slow Exit from Hong Kong , , , , ,

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 […]