How to Live in a Shoebox

Photo by Michali K What’s wrong with a typical Hong Kong apartment? Lots. Not only is the average apartment just 450 square feet in size, it is loaded with features that make it less, rather than more, liveable. There are bay windows, tiny rooms, odd layouts, unusably small balconies and a complete lack of storage […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Interior Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on How to Live in a Shoebox , , ,

The City That Built Norman Foster

The HSBC Building under construction It was a typically busy morning at Chek Lap Kok. Thousands of passengers swarmed beneath the vast sweep of the airport’s white roof, duty free bags in hand, squirming children in tow. The line for Starbucks inched ever longer. Yet a cool tranquility reigned over the terminal. That was especially […]

Before Sandy

The sun was burning through morning fog as I walked down Hoyt Street to the subway, the Williamsburg Savings Bank half-shrouded like in some imaginary Gotham. By the time I reached Beach 59th Street, the sky was a deep blue. It was late October, but it felt like summer. I took off my sweater and […]

Free at Last

When the Hong Kong public was invited to choose a master plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District, they were met by ambitious presentations from each of the proposals. The most sophisticated pitch of all came from Norman Foster’s office, which provided seductively realistic renderings of their City Park concept, which included grassy meadows overlooking […]

Pastoralympics

Wait, that’s not an Olympic sport! Photo courtesy UK Department of Culture, Media, and Sport Texted, tweeted, teasing browsers of a hundred “sneak preview” slideshows ─ in short, serving as the centerpiece of endless international speculation for weeks prior to its debut ─ the verdant green fields on which the curtain of the 2012 Olympics […]

Posted in: Europe, History, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Pastoralympics , , , , , , ,

How to Rethink Our Streets

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Boulevard, Montreal, Spring 2011 Urban design proposed for the boulevard, February 2012 Last year, my team and the planning service of Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles borough worked to rethink the design of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Boulevard. It is located east of downtown Montreal, where it crosses old districts from the early 1900s and suburbs from the 1960s. It was […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Canada, Environment, Transportation by Daniel Corbeil Comments Off on How to Rethink Our Streets , , ,

The Underground City

If you live in Montreal, you’ll eventually be asked the question: “Which way is the underground city?” You will probably be walking along Ste. Catherine Street, the city’s main shopping artery, where H&M and Zara jostle for space with strip clubs and hot dog joints. Or maybe you will be making your way through the […]

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 […]

The Greater Grid

Straight as an arrow: triptych along Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Last year, Manhattan celebrated the 200th anniversary of its vaunted grid street system, the rectilinear net that stretches from First Street in what’s now the East Village to 155th, in Washington Heights. And any assumption this was too dry a subject for most New Yorkers […]

Posted in: History, Maps, United States by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on The Greater Grid , , , ,

On the Waterfront: Central Ferry Piers, Cheung Chau Praya

This is the last in a series of three posts about Hong Kong’s waterfront public spaces. Read the first one here and the second here. The promenade that runs for 850 metres along the Central ferry piers is one of the best public spaces in Hong Kong. I suspect this partly by accident. In the […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on On the Waterfront: Central Ferry Piers, Cheung Chau Praya , , , , , ,

On the Waterfront: Tsim Sha Tsui

For a city defined by its harbour, Hong Kong has done a remarkable job of blocking people off from it. Highways, private development, cargo yards and storage depots take up more than 60 percent of Victoria Harbour’s shorelines. The rest of the harbourfront is a higgledy-piggledy network of disjointed promenades, some better than others. Luckily, […]

“Urbanized”: Democracy and Design

[youtube width=”400″ height=”250″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jpN8kI0-pY&t=2s[/youtube] Gary Hustwit clearly wanted his new documentary, Urbanized, to get more people talking or writing about cities. But he might not have expected the very literal way that admirers at Field Notes, a stationery company, would help facilitate that goal — by supplying notepads branded with the film’s logo to audiences attending […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Film, Politics, Video by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on “Urbanized”: Democracy and Design , , , , ,

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 […]

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. […]