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"We build this city", Xinning says. Hong Kong - A family affair

Part 2 Project 2002
Mathis Malchow
Technische Universitat Berlin Berlin Germany
An expression of culture

Architecture and urbanity are expressions of a society, although there's in many cases a time lag: the urban surroundings usually are developing with delay. But this ever-present inertia can be influenced, as it depends on a number of parameters. These parameters are explored and further on implemented in my project as tools for urban development. When formulating a cultural strategy, architecture or urban design probably will not be of immediate concern. On the other hand it is undeniable that radical interventions, as for example Haussmann's restructuring of Paris, contribute to an atmosphere of enhanced cultural development. Your surroundings and their design, life in a positive cultural atmosphere, are by themselves cultural goods: they are conditions, that enable the growth of culture in a more traditional sense. These parts of a cultural strategy are the domain of architecture and urban design. Topic of the project presented here is the transformation of Hong Kong through different actors, to advance cultural identity and quality of life. The scenario for scrutinizing this thesis is largely the near past. The project advances gradually through the last twenty years and is narrated along the personal experience and actions of Xin-ning's family: the life of this family constitutes a new urban myth.

Bringing this urban myth with all its aspects to life is much more difficult using twenty slides than giving a one-hour presentation. As witnesses of my former presentations will report, I later had to persist that Xin-ning and his family are purely fictive characters. Maybe the paintings carry some of the quality a live-presentation would have.

Mathis Malchow


The self-chosen topic of this project is culture. Culture is often associated with a slow development and growth, opposite to the liveliness and velocity of Hong Kong. This project develops a different idea of culture. It says good-bye to reactivation of traditions and concentrates on the parts and elements that stayed alive: the radical efficiency and the strong wish for a healthy life environment. The project deals also with the engrained religiosity and the pursuit of profit: both cultural characteristics of Hong Kong. Step by step the project opens a different understanding of Hong Kong and the changing and developing connection to its region, the Pearl River Delta. The story sets us back into the year 1978, the year of the salvage of Liu Ying. With small interventions and manipulations different story lines are developed, that are in combination with the real facts generating a complex scenario. The aim is not to pass a quantitative cultural comparison. The aim is the cultural quality and sustainability, achieved by strengthening the cultural identity and quality of life. In the end there’s a vision, that describes the coherence in a regional and global scale enfolding. This vision also reveals the, in comparison with the reality, not-yet fully tapped potentials of this metropolis.

This excellent achievement, that resists every scrutiny, is related to the personality of the author, who handled this big scale and also the small scales in their atmospheric approach with ease. The parallel working in different scales and media enriches not only the discussion about Hong Kong. It enriches everyone, who takes up time, to follow the thoughts and approaches without ruffle.

2002
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