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, […]

From Industry to Art at Warp Speed

It’s a familiar story: old industrial area becomes creative hub. What makes OCT Loft different is that the entire process took just six years — and it’s on the vanguard of Shenzhen’s transformation from factory town to Chinese creative superpower. In the mid-1980s, a swath of farmland in the newly-established Shenzhen Special Economic Zone was […]

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 […]

Escalating Fury

It’s as predictable as the tide. Every morning, thousands of commuters stream down the Central Mid-Levels escalator, bound for offices, buses and crowded subway cars at the bottom of the hill. Then, at 10:30am, the escalator reverses itself. Now the crowds flow uphill. Helpers return from the market with bags full of choi, the lunch […]

Another Hole in Montreal’s Heart

The lower Main in 1997. Photo by Kate McDonnell One of the defining features of Montreal’s cityscape is the abundance of vacant lots. Weedy, gravelly blocks of land, they can be seen in every neighbourhood, in some areas on every street, delineated by rows of misshapen concrete blocks, like boulders left behind by the retreat […]

Design in a Police Dormitory

The sun has already fallen behind Hong Kong’s skyscrapers as architect Daniel Patzold stolls through the lower courtyard of the former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road. Beneath a row of tall banyan trees, on what was once a basketball court, 70 young designers are gathered to sell their products at Detour, a festival of […]

The Unsquared Circle of Old Shanghai

Take a look at a map of Shanghai and it still jumps out at you — a tightly-wound ball of narrow streets threading through warrens of centuries-old houses. Call it what you will — the neighborhood seems to have no standard English name, and “Old City,” “Round City,” or simply “Old Shanghai” have been used […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, History, Maps by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on The Unsquared Circle of Old Shanghai , , , , ,

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 […]

Brooklyn’s Fractured Faces

Know which leafy block to turn down off the numbered avenues of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, squint past the bright spots of sun and deep shadows dappling the ground late into a summer day, and you can puzzle them together — a series of portraits, “ghostly apparitions” as the New York Times called them — spanning […]

Looking for Life in Puerto Madero

The walk from the Plaza de Mayo, the political heart of Buenos Aires, to Puerto Madero, its redeveloped waterfront, begins inauspiciously. Cars barrel down multilane boulevards devoid of people; a weed-strewn lot slated to become a monument to the country’s deeply-loved former president, Juan Perón, lies unconvincingly fallow. Then there are the railroad tracks severing […]

Collecting the Scraps of a Changing Shanghai

There was no reason to have entered what looked like a dumpster north of Wangjiamatou Lu (王家码头路) which was located in Shanghai’s Old Town, or known better to some as the former walled city of Nanshi (literally ‘southern town’ (南市)) — until a small head in pigtails poked out from behind the rusty doors and […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Interior Space, Society and Culture by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on Collecting the Scraps of a Changing Shanghai , , , ,

An Old Building Given New Life — For Now

In Hong Kong, the fate of an old building is virtually predetermined. Worn by years of intense use and little maintenance, it is snatched up by a property developer who waits for the right moment to knock it down and replace it with shoebox apartments, or maybe a cookie-cutter hotel. Carl Gouw wants to break […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on An Old Building Given New Life — For Now , , , ,

Slow Heal

The Montreal metro being built under de Maisonneuve, early 1960s For a long time, the boulevard de Maisonneuve was one of my least favourite streets in Montreal. It was built in the 1960s by linking and widening four distinct streets: de Montigny, Burnside, St. Luc and Western. The final product was a Frankenstein’s monster of […]

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 […]