Urban Rebirth in South Africa

Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg The skies threatened rain, but the streets in Braamfontein were buzzing. On De Beer Street, crowds spilled out of the ground-floor bar of the Bannister, a hotel with retro 60s signage. Across the street, the scene was even more intense at the Neighbourgoods Market, which every Saturday transforms a parking garage into […]

“Good” Gentrification

Last month, when Space Invader was looking for friendly walls to mount his tile-based art, the French street artist found an enthusiastic response in a place far from the galleries and graffiti of Sheung Wan: Sham Shui Po. “The reception was really good,” says Lauren Every-Wortman, a curator at the HOCA Foundation, which sponsored Space […]

New Life in Old Beijing, Part III

This is the final installment in a three-part series on preservation and urban transformation in Beijing’s hutongs. Half a kilometre from Tiananmen Square, an unexpected aroma wafts through the Beijing hutongs: fresh-roasted coffee. The source of that smell is just as surprising. Housed in a two-storey structure that was at various times a government-run printing […]

New Life in Old Beijing, Part II

When I arrived in Beijing on the third day of the Chinese New Year, I was expecting the city to be quiet, and it was, except on Nanluoguxiang, a long alleyway near the Drum and Bell Towers that is lined by small shops, cafés and restaurants. Nanluoguxiang was busy — swarming with people, in fact. […]

New Life in Old Beijing, Part I

Great Leap Brewery in Doujiao Hutong It’s the third day of the Chinese New Year and Beijing is taking a break. Traffic has unjammed itself, department stores are shuttered and bursts of fireworks cut through the cold, dry air. As my taxi passes over the Second Ring Road, the streets are quiet until the Gulou […]

Taipei’s Urban Regeneration

Treasure Hill. Photo by Wunkai It’s a scorchingly hot afternoon in Taipei and cicadas are buzzing loudly outside the Treasure Hill Temple. A man in cycling gear stops to take a swig of water before turning towards the temple’s statue of Guanyin, the Chinese goddess of mercy. He clasps his hands and bows three times, […]

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 […]

Hawker City

Not long ago, I was wandering around Kwun Tong trying to find an Indonesian restaurant. I arrived outside its front door only to find the shutter drawn, with a notice from the Urban Renewal Authority announcing that the property had been acquired for redevelopment. Then I looked around: nearly every storefront on the street was […]

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 […]

Gentrification or Redevelopment?

Light from a new fashion boutique floods an alley near Blake Garden, Hong Kong Alan Lo Yeung-kit is an unlikely critic of urban renewal. Three of his successful restaurants — Classified, Press Room and The Pawn — are located in Urban Renewal Authority projects in Sheung Wan and Wan Chai. Critics have accused his businesses […]

“There is Nothing Here”

Then-and-now impresario Lee Chi-man uploaded this compilation the other day. It depicts Shin Wong Street as seen from Hollywood Road, in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district, in 1969 and 2011. Lee accompanied the image with a short, poignant inscription, in Chinese, which Laine Tam took the liberty of translating: When I was taking this picture, […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on “There is Nothing Here” , , ,

La rue Charlotte, à l’ombre de la Main

Rongeurs attendant la fin: rue Charlotte, Montréal Alors que j’arpente les rues étroites et organiques de la cité coloniale, au sud du quartier latin, je me surprend à escalader lentement la douce pente de la basse-ville jusqu’au tragique Boulevard René-Lévesque – horrible et bruyant – que je trouve en pleine transformation. Tout près, des dizaines […]

Notre-Dame and Griffintown: 1930-2010

Notre Dame St West, circa 1930-2010 What happened here ? This used to be the north end of Griffintown, right next to the business center of Montreal. À Montréal, au cours des années 1950 et 1960, notamment suite au rapport Dozois, on identifie des dizaines de quartiers qualifiés d’insalubres, vus comme irrécupérables, et où les […]

Posted in: Architecture, Canada, History by Daniel Corbeil Comments Off on Notre-Dame and Griffintown: 1930-2010 , , , ,

Hong Kong’s Dai Pai Dong: A Bitter Taste

Toy dai pai dong model in the G.O.D. Street Culture Gallery When six dai pai dong vanished from Hong Kong’s Central district last year, fans of wok hei street food were worried that the street food stalls had disappeared for good. Now they’re back, shiner than ever after five months of renovations. New gas lines, […]