Meet the Fig Tree

It’s a fun exercise to think of how long it would take for reclaim our cities if humanity were to disappear overnight. How many months until Dubai is returned to the desert? How many hurricanes until New Orleans becomes part of the Gulf? Here in Hong Kong, nature’s plan is well underway. In a city […]

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Design for Hong Kong

Sometimes it seems as though everyone knows Michael Leung — even the owner of a Kwun Tong dai pai dong, who chats amiably with the young designer as he sits down for lunch. “We made a zine about him,” Leung explains later. “He’s really proud of it.” Scratch the surface of Hong Kong’s creative scene […]

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 […]

A Creature on the Roof

You can see a lot of unauthorized structures on the rooftops of Wan Chai — sheet metal canopies, rusted chain-link fences, hand-built wooden shacks — but none of them quite looks like KAPKAR, a new sculpture by Dutch artist Frank Havermans, which was installed last week on the roof of the Wan Chai Visual Archive. […]

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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 […]

Pigeon Keepers of Bushwick

If you’ve been following our Photos of the Week, you’ve probably seen the work of Chris Arnade, a New York-based photographer who creates particularly lovely images. Arnade has a particularly good eye for urban characters. Last week, he emailed me about a series he has been working on about men who raise pigeons on the […]

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Green Wall, Green Roof

Perhaps not quite what you’d expect.

Rooftop Dystopia

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEpjnRwLrco[/youtube] Two years ago, I spent a lot of time exploring the rooftop squatter villages that spread across the city like mushrooms on a tree stump. There’s an eerie feeling that comes over you as you walk through these settlements. Weeds poke through cracks in concrete walls; birds chirp and cicadas whir in the hot […]

Bees in the City

Photo by Nelson Chan It’s late on a sunny morning and Michael Leung is skulking around on the roof of an old factory building, tending to the potted flowers that feed his hungry workers: an army of 30,000 bees. “Right now this roof is just used for smoking, but eventually we want to cover at […]

What’s Left of the Kowloon Walled City

Earlier this week, the urban issues magazine Next American City tweeted a link to an illustrated cross-section of the Kowloon Walled City, the world’s greatest informal settlement. It gives you a good idea of just how intense the level of human activity within the city was: one room a factory, the next a bedroom, the […]

Hong Kong Rooftops: You Are Being Watched

Last month, I paid a visit to Hong Kong Reader, a great independent bookstore on the seventh floor of a building in Mongkok. Before I entered the shop, though, I gazed up the stairwell and wondered whether there was an interesting view from the roof. I climbed an extra few floors and emerged onto a […]

The View from Above

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbp_Ir_D3sM[/youtube] Part of the brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film Rear Window was the way it acknowledged voyeurism as part of urban life. In the city, we’re always being watched and we’re always watching others, be it on the street, from across a café or on the web, through street photography. I’d be lying if […]

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Game On

Soccer game seen from the roof of the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre

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Hong Kong Rooftops: The Pawn

Above, 1980s. Below, 2010. Compilation by Lee Chi-man The fact that a row of prewar shophouses still stands on Johnston Road suggests we’ve entered a new chapter in Hong Kong’s history of urban development. Originally housing the century-old Woo Cheong Pawn Shop and other neighbourhood businesses, the shophouses were bought by the Urban Renewal Authority […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Interior Space, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Hong Kong Rooftops: The Pawn , , , ,