255 Years Ago Today: The Lisbon Earthquake

On this morning 255 years ago, Lisbon was one of the richest cities in the world. Wealth had been flowing in from Portugal’s colonies ever since the great wave of Portuguese exploration began in the 1400s. A new palace and opera house had recently been completed, and the 300,000 or so residents were observing one […]

Posted in: Architecture, Environment, Europe, Heritage and Preservation, History, Public Space by Mary Soderstrom Comments Off on 255 Years Ago Today: The Lisbon Earthquake , , , ,

The Last Walled Village

Two and a half years ago, my girlfriend and I were walking through a housing estate near Kowloon City when we happened upon something completely unexpected: a walled village. At first glance, we actually thought it was an old shantytown, surrounded as it was by street hawkers, outdoor barbers and houses made of sheet metal. […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, History, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Last Walled Village , , , , ,

Say Goodbye to Old Hong Kong

Old buildings bought for redevelopment are displayed in the window of an acquisition company office on Victory Avenue in Ho Man Tin There goes the neighbourhood. A new government policy on compulsory sales in old buildings has led to a property gold rush in Hong Kong’s older districts, putting homeowners on guard and worrying many […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Demographics, Heritage and Preservation, Politics, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Say Goodbye to Old Hong Kong , , , , , ,

China’s Heritage Policy: Missing a Step

The 18 steps (十八梯) in Chongqing form a wonderfully atmospheric alleyway. It’s one of many older streets sunk down amongst the thrusting skyscrapers of this rapidly growing city which feel saturated with history, in contrast to the modern development all around. Clambering up the steps, I feel like I’ve found the traditional China I’ve been […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, History, Society and Culture by Nicholas Olczak Comments Off on China’s Heritage Policy: Missing a Step , , , , , ,

Le Corbusier Died and Nobody Noticed

On August 27th, the forty-fifth anniversary of the death of Swiss architect Le Corbusier slipped by with nobody noticing. His legacy, however, lives on in cities around the world. His idea was to make things better for people. Getting rid of substandard, unhealthy housing, and separating industry from residential areas was supposed to reform both […]

The Gutting of Gulou

Cranes, viewed from the 13th century Gulou, or Drum Tower, build the new Beijing The view from Beijing’s Gulou, or Drum Tower, is dominated by the labyrinth of threadlike lanes — the city’s famous hutongs — spreading in all directions, filling in the superblocks formed by the city’s broad, rectilinear avenues. Gulou, built in the […]

Rethinking Urban Renewal in Hong Kong

This is a feature story that was originally published in the July 2010 edition of Muse magazine. The photos accompanying this article were taken around the Graham Street Market in Central. Standing in the soggy heat of a late spring afternoon, Katty Law reflected on the irony that it took a movie a mere two […]

How to Lose a Sense of Place

You can’t touch the sculpture in front of Langham Place. It’s a nice bronze piece by Larry Bell, and it looks great from a distance, but if people touched it, their oily hands would ruin the metal. So there’s a security guard stationed out front, all day, every day, to make sure nobody crawls onto […]

Killing Prince Edward Road’s Creative Buzz

Twenty years ago, when film producer Amy Chin was looking for a new office, she came across a 1,500-square-foot flat in an old shophouse in the Mong Kok Flower Market. She fell in love as soon as she saw the 12-foot ceilings, balcony and huge, enclosed verandah. “This place is very good for creative people […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Killing Prince Edward Road’s Creative Buzz , , , , , ,

Urban Renewal: Quartier Concordia

Froideur intellectuelle

Under the Wrecking Ball’s Shadow

There is not much to indicate that the rundown shophouse on Shanghai Street in Mongkok houses anything but a pawn shop. On the third floor, however, is Tong Saam, an unmarked space that has positioned itself on Hong Kong’s creative vanguard. Since it was opened earlier this year by three friends interested in music and […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Politics, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Under the Wrecking Ball’s Shadow , , , , ,

Goodbye Gutzlaff

Whenever you come across a particularly charming and surprising corner of Hong Kong, you can almost be sure that the Urban Renewal Authority has plans to do away with it. Although its official vision is “to create quality and vibrant urban living in Hong Kong,” most of its developments obliterate tight-knit communities and organic urban […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Politics, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Goodbye Gutzlaff , , , , , ,

Some Weeds Grow in Brooklyn

I photographed this old (and perhaps abandoned) industrial building in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood just a few years ago. At the time, it was a captivating relic — almost entirely ensconced in graffiti, it was sprouting weeds that had either spilled onto the sidewalk, or had climbed up from the sidewalk onto it. The old orange […]

Posted in: Environment, United States by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Some Weeds Grow in Brooklyn , , , , , ,

High Times

Opening weekend for the High Line, Manhattan’s latest, most expensive new playground, is a mob scene: a line of cabs and SUVs blocks long throng the streets of the Meatpacking District, which, full for once, seem almost grateful to be receiving as much attention as they did when trucks filled with carcasses from somewhere west […]