Blown Away

Lately, Hong Kong has taken on the airs of a carnival gone wrong. In late April, as a damp wind blew and the sky loomed heavy, Florentijn Hofman’s giant rubber duck floated into Victoria Harbour, igniting a media frenzy — the South China Morning Post ran no fewer than 12 articles on the duck — […]

Remembering Columbus

Tatzu Nishi has made a career of bringing monuments down to size. Over the past 15 years, the 52-year-old Japanese artist has enclosed statues around the world in makeshift rooms. Last year, he built a hotel room around Singapore’s Merlion, whose enormous head loomed incongruously over a luxuriously-appointed king-sized bed. This year, Christopher Columbus receives […]

Don’t Touch the Art

The scene plays out hundreds of times a day, like a sad rendition of Groundhog Day. With nowhere to sit, a weary passerby leans against the leg of Happy Man, the nine-metre-high sculpture by American sculptor Larry Bell that stands in front of the Langham Place shopping mall at the corner of Argyle and Portland […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Canada, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Don’t Touch the Art , , , ,

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, […]

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, […]

Roadsworth’s Legacy

Eight years ago, I was crossing Fairmount Avenue near my apartment in Montreal’s Mile End district when I noticed a strange addition to the zebra crossing beneath my feet: barbed wire. Not actual barbed wire, but a painted rendition of it along the edge of the crosswalk, half in yellow, the other half white, both […]

The Robson Street Lawn

Vancouver is working hard to shake off its reputation as a somewhat pious city that values good mountain views over vibrant streetlife. Its architecture has seen a shift away from the back-to-nature style of the 1970s, 80s and 90s towards something bolder and more urban, like the recently-completed Woodwards redevelopment. There seems to be more […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Canada, Public Space, Society and Culture, Video by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Robson Street Lawn , , , ,

A Walk Through the Bairro Português

Jane Jacobs died five years ago and fans of cities and the celebrated, iconclastic urbanist have been remembering her contribution with walks through neighborhoods around the world since 2007. This coming weekend, May 7 and 8, enthusiastic city lovers in more than 150 cities around the world, from Toronto to São Paulo, will lead Jane’s […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space, Society and Culture by Mary Soderstrom Comments Off on A Walk Through the Bairro Português , , ,

Public Service Murals in Suzhou

After spotting a series of public service mosaics around Shanghai’s old alleys, I’ve been keeping my eye out for similar posters on out-of-town trips. My latest trip to Suzhou had been fruitful. I spotted this row of lovely painted murals while strolling through a quiet lane parallel to the busy Shiquan Street (十全街), which emphasized […]

Public Service Mosaics in Shanghai

Ruihua Lane (瑞华坊) is one of the many old alleys in Shanghai’s Luwan District (卢湾区), but it’s distinguished by its wonderful display of visual public service announcements made up entirely of large mosaic tiles. Though slightly fading, the posters, in good Party-like slogan fashion, reminded the lane’s former residents of behaviors that went along with […]

The Death of a Village

It was bound to happen. 26 months after Tsoi Yuen Village received its death sentence, 100 police officers burst into the remaining villagers’ houses and told them to leave. The villagers were incredulous. “I was negotiating with the government peacefully only a few days ago,” one man, Cheung Sun-yau, told the South China Morning Post. […]

Defrosting Public Space

Sphères polaires at the Place des Festival By the time February rolls around, Montreal has already been buried in snow for a couple of months and your mental map of the city has changed considerably. Places you’d normally linger — the steps at Place des Arts, the plaza in front of Mont-Royal metro, the giant […]

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 , , , , , ,

Writing on the Streets

It was late on a chilly March afternoon as I wandered through a small plaza near Houhai Lake in Beijing. The air was struggling to stay above freezing and I shivered in my spring jacket. Looking down, I noticed some Chinese characters drawn in water on the plaza’s grey paving stones. Whoever drew them was […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Writing on the Streets , , , , , ,