How to Ruin a Wonderful Space

The Devonian Gardens in 2007. Photo by norrix The Devonian Gardens were a wonderland. Located on the top floor of the TD Centre mall in downtown Calgary, the gardens were a fully-enclosed greenhouse of tropical plants and — best of all for a kid — a million nooks and crannies to explore. It seemed like […]

Rethinking Asia’s Public Spaces

Talking over dim sum at a busy Wan Chai restaurant, it doesn’t take much prompting for Christopher Law to reel off the failures of Hong Kong’s public spaces. “No matter how small the space is, they try to fence it off,” he says, taking of sip of pu-erh tea. “All the public seating is extremely […]

The Seawall in all its Incarnations

Walking the length of Vancouver’s Seawall is a lesson in design fads and fashions. The Stanley Park stretch dates back to 1914 and is elegant in its simplicity; a rough-hewn stone wall threads its way around the park’s craggy shoreline, rainforest on one side and cool Pacific waters on the other. Near Granville Island, the […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Environment, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Seawall in all its Incarnations , , , , , , ,

La Grande Jatte

Every day from spring to fall, a scene reminiscent of Georges Seurat’s most famous painting is reenacted next to the Lafontaine Park pond in Montreal. It’s as much of a scene as any bar or café: teenagers flirting, sunbathers bathing, les ostie de gratteux de guitare strumming their guitars. Thinking back to my most recent […]

Pastoralympics

Wait, that’s not an Olympic sport! Photo courtesy UK Department of Culture, Media, and Sport Texted, tweeted, teasing browsers of a hundred “sneak preview” slideshows ─ in short, serving as the centerpiece of endless international speculation for weeks prior to its debut ─ the verdant green fields on which the curtain of the 2012 Olympics […]

Posted in: Europe, History, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Pastoralympics , , , , , , ,

Remembering Tiananmen in Hong Kong

Tiananmen Square vigil in Hong Kong. Photos by dawvon. Last night, as Chinese internet censors frantically banned words like “today” and “Tiananmen” from web searches and social media, 180,000 people gathered in Hong Kong to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the June 4th massacre. This is an annual ritual that has taken place ever since […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, History, Politics, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Remembering Tiananmen in Hong Kong , ,

A Fire on Mount Royal

The temperature was edging below zero when the first drug dealer approached. “You want something?” he asked, peering at us from under the hood of his jacket. We said no and he wandered away, casting us a suspicious glance over his shoulder. Soon, half a dozen men were eyeing us. “What you doing here?” shouted […]

Urban Gulch: Edmonton’s Big River Valley

There’s a long-standing rivalry out here on the Prairies. Beyond local football and hockey antagonisms, Calgarians and Edmontonians seem to have a lot of other beef with each other. I am a native Calgarian, but I must admit the unspeakable: Edmonton is a beautiful place! It is, in fact, a walkable, friendly and interesting city […]

Posted in: Canada by Karl Leung Comments Off on Urban Gulch: Edmonton’s Big River Valley ,

A Citadel of Colonial Power — For Sale

Later this year, when Hong Kong’s government moves its headquarters to a glassy new building next to Victoria Harbour, it will leave behind the leafy hill it has called home since the 1840s. Rather than conserve the hill for public use, however, the government wants to sell half of it to developers, who plan to […]

Hong Kong’s Generic Cultural District

Call it déjà vu: five years after Norman Foster’s plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District was scrapped in the face of massive public controversy, another Foster plan for the district has been chosen. On Friday, the authority in charge of developing the cultural district announced that Foster’s bid was selected over rival plans by […]

Strange Graffiti in King’s Park

I’m a big fan of street art for all sorts of reasons: it is a sign of dynamic urban life, it is a jab in the face of authority, it makes my walks through the city more interesting. But street art, like all forms of art, can get stuck in a rut. When it takes […]

Nap Time

Restaurant workers asleep in a Wan Chai plaza, Hong Kong

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Nap Time , , ,

The Cheonggyecheon Experience

What amazed me most about Cheonggyecheon was its freedom. Here was a stream running through the middle of Seoul, one of the world’s largest cities, and it gurgled as contentedly as any country creek. You can walk next to the water, sit next to it, wade in and feel its sharp chill on your calves. […]

The Reluctant Urban Artist: Anish Kapoor

In the omphalos of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, Chicago The contemporary art world can be a fickle place. Less than a decade ago, Damien Hirst somehow managed to earn an overnight fortune by preserving a dead shark in a fish tank. That was before a host of personal troubles — and the ongoing recession’s damper […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Europe, Public Space, United States by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on The Reluctant Urban Artist: Anish Kapoor , , , , , ,