Hong Kong Biennale

Project Exhibited at the Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture 2007/2008 Exhibitor: Eymen Homsi

Team: Cai Ying Yi bell, Lau Hing Ching, Lee Shuk Nga Rachel, Cheng Ka Yi Jennifer, Chu Lai Nga Eureka, Kung Yik Ho Alvin

Hong Kong’s urban space is compressed to a point of maximum density, minimal voids, exaggerated verticality.  The old Walled City of Kowloon, before it was demolished in the 1990’s, was an emblematic example of this kind of extreme compression.  And yet, despite its incredible density (33,000 people on 6.5 acres) and myriad social problems, despite the absence of natural light and fresh air, it seems that its inhabitants had a well developed sense of community and a strong attachment to their city.  This is in marked contrast to the fragmented communities in today’s high-rise towers where inhabitants are cut off from each other floor by floor.  This experimental revisit attempts to combine density with natural light.

The project is placed on the emblematic site of the Walled City.  It consists of an arrangement of round-courtyard forms whose overall density approximates that of present day Hong Kong.  The modules distantly evoke the round-houses of Fujian, but here stacked and stratified for urban scale and density. Devices are employed to ease the compression: communal roof gardens for light and air; raised volumes for ground continuity and transparency; separate pedestrian levels for sensible scale.  The overall agglomeration produces multiple internal courtyards and an equal number of in-between public spaces.  The effect is of village modules colliding, deforming, and compressing in competition for space.  Yet they compete while maintaining individual identities, internal intimacy, and height and shape distinctions.