Architects Who Understand

The Venice Biennale of Architecture closes this week, which has given me opportunity to think back to its opening days in late August. I was there to cover the Hong Kong exhibition, but I had a bit of time to soak up the rest of the show. It was big, unruly and dramatically uneven, but […]

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. […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on A Creature on the Roof , , , , ,

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 […]

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: A Village, Ten Stories Up

Wandering down narrow lanes, past rows of makeshift houses, I could be standing in a squatter’s village in the New Territories. Potted plants sigh in the heavy heat of summer. Door gods peel from wooden entranceways. It is quiet. But I’m not in a village — I’m ten stories above a narrow street in Tai […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Hong Kong Rooftops: A Village, Ten Stories Up , , , , , ,

Hong Kong’s Squatter Settlements

[youtube]WFqaMpFD4TE[/youtube] If any kind of urban form defines the Hong Kong experience, it’s the skyscraper. Just look out from any window: there are thousands of them. But what preceded those high-rises, and even gave birth to them, were the vast shantytowns built throughout the twentieth century by refugees from mainland China. In the decades following […]

The Last Squatters

Remnants of an old squatter settlement. Shek Wu Hui, Sheung Shui, New Territories

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Last Squatters , , ,

Don’t Bulldoze the Slums

Street scene in Dharavi. Photo from the Economist “Around 6am, the squealing of copulating rats—signalling a night-long verminous orgy on the rooftops of Dharavi, a slum in Mumbai—gives way to the more cheerful sound of chirruping sparrows. Through a small window in Shashikant (“Shashi”) Kawale’s rickety shack, daylight seeps. It reveals a curly black head […]

Posted in: Politics, Public Space, Society and Culture, South Asia by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Don’t Bulldoze the Slums , , , , , ,