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 […]

Inside Foster’s Plan for West Kowloon

When Norman Foster won the international competition for the master plan of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong last spring, I was disappointed. I thought it was plug-and-play urbanism, a crowd-pleasing design that had too much in common with so many interchangeable urban neighbourhoods that have sprung up in the past 20 years. […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Environment, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Inside Foster’s Plan for West Kowloon , , , ,

Urban Pastoral

It comes to me whenever I am in Vancouver: an urge to watch the sunset. Pulled by memories of blue Pacific waters buffeting a tangerine sky, I make my way to English Bay Beach, where I find a seat on one of the large pieces of driftwood that have been arranged on the sand, and […]

A City Without Ground

It’s a bright Sunday afternoon and Central is buzzing. Thousands of Filipino domestic workers gather with friends for a weekly picnic. Shoppers stream through the luxury shops of Chater House to the somewhat less posh confines of Worldwide House, where large boxes of gifts are being packed for shipment to the Philippines. Charity workers stop […]


[youtube][/youtube] Megatransecting Mexico City In 1999, American biologist J. Michael Fay set out on a project to map and survey the vegetation of Africa’s entire Congo River basin. Heavily promoted by National Geographic as “The Megatransect,” Fay’s feat involved 455 days of walking across 3,200 miles of largely untamed territory. Biologists had actually been using […]

Posted in: Europe, Latin America, South Asia, Video by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Mega(city)transect , , , ,

Shenzhen from Above

Thirty years ago, Shenzhen was a collection of farming towns and fishing villages home to not much more than 300,000 people. It is now a sprawling metropolis of several million, with around 3.5 million in the city centre and another five or six million in the suburbs and industrial towns that stretch for miles beyond. […]

The Pearl River Megalopolis

Shenzhen from above “China to create largest mega city in the world with 42 million people,” announced a breathless headline in Sunday’s Telegraph, detailing plans to combine the cities of Guangdong province’s Pearl River Delta (PRD) into a massive urban conurbation. “Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, […]

Wan Chai in 1966

Hong Kong’s vertical urbanity was already taking shape by the mid-1960s, but as this 1966 aerial photo of Wan Chai shows, it still retained a bit of its earlier Southeast Asian character with rows of pitched-roof shophouses. The older parts of Guangzhou, Macau, Taipei and Bangkok still look like this today.

Posted in: Asia Pacific, History by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Wan Chai in 1966 , ,

The Shenzhen Flâneur

It’s easy to spot Mary Ann O’Donnell in a Shenzhen crowd. She’s the one wearing a pink-and-orange linen scarf and flowing dress. She’s also white — a rather rare sight in a wealthy city that is still off the radar of the roving crowd of expatriates that have settled in Shanghai and Beijing. Don’t let […]

The Right Scale

Earlier this week, Montreal’s city council approved the development of two 32-storey Waldorf-Astoria hotel and condominium towers near the corner of Guy and Sherbrooke streets. The Gazette accompanied this announcement with a rendering of two massive, gaudy, post-modern towers; if they are vaguely reminiscent of the famous Waldorf-Astoria in New York, it’s only a coincidence, […]

Posted in: Architecture, Canada by Christopher DeWolf 1 Comment , ,

Urban Village, Shenzhen Style

The rapid urbanization of Shenzhen since 1980 has generated a contemporary landscape dotted with a series of urban villages, enclaves of buzzing urbanity and street life situated on land owned by Shenzhen’s original rural residents. These areas house much of Shenzhen’s floating population of workers from across China. The local farmers or fishers who are […]