day 40_thank you

Big thank you to my friend and colleague Evan Chakroff, whose knowledge and guidance was essential to my travels through China. Without him, many places and buildings would have stayed unknown and undiscovered to me.

day 40_Hong Kong_city without ground

"Ground is a continuous plane and a stable reference point. It is the surface on which the conflicts of urban propinquity: public and private, planned and impromptu, privileged and disadvantaged, are worked out. In cities like New York, great cultural significance is placed in being on the spatial ground [...] The ground plane remains a reference point for cultural life. Hong Kong enhances three-dimensional connectivity to such a degree that it eliminates reference to the ground altogether. Hong Kong is a city without ground." A. Frampton, J. D. Solomon, C. Wong in Cities Without Ground.

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Entry into one of many shopping malls which are part of an extensive network above the street level, three-dimensionalizing the ground of the city:

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The longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, making one feel more like inside a large urban interior, rather than being outside on the streets:

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day 39_Hong Kong_fancy suburbs

I was flabbergasted when I first saw the enormous housing developments rising in front of me as I was taking the bus from the airport to the city. But because of the surrounding landscape, these concrete mountains somehow fit in quite well. It is like a strange little competition between the man-made concrete hills and the natural green ones.

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day 38_Hong Kong_Lippo Center

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Lippo Center stood out immediately, when I first spotted it. It was just so unique formally from the rest of the buildings around, which surprised me (not that I did not already know it from the photographs and drawings, but perhaps it was the context around it that made the building so much more intriguing). The deep protrusions broke up the otherwise smooth and highly reflective facade, and the base of the building disintegrated into a series of shifted planes and columns of various heights - so fitting for the city of multiple ground planes. Nothing special inside, but there was something futuristic about Lippo Center on the outside... it reminded me of a giant transformer that is going to transform any minute and walk away.

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day 37-38_Hong Kong_first impressions

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Hong Kong is one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever been to. It is just so complex spatially! The inside/outside relationship we architects like to think about (as well as the almost archaic relationship between public space and private space) just does not exist here. Or if it does, it’s much more intricate and three-dimensional than almost any other city I know of.

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The spatial complexities partially arise from the incredibly varied and hilly terrain. The city had to adapt and densify within a very small area, which is the reason today's roads, multi-level walkways, sky-bridges, covered and semi-covered pedestrian pathways, escalators and who-knows-what-else all cut through buildings and link the high-rises, shopping malls, and the ‘normal’ exterior streets together in a crazy 3D network. The surrounding hills on one side and the water on the other side just don’t permit an easy suburban sprawl which is so typical of North American cities.

 The awe-inspiring panorama of Hong Kong.

The awe-inspiring panorama of Hong Kong.

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day 35_Hangzhou

"Good Life Is Not So Expensive" says billboard to the Chinese consumers in front of one of many demolition sites in the city.

Sometimes the developer's renderings completely stopped me in my tracks... what are they advertising? The new multilane road?

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day 34_Hangzhou

This is quickly turning into a travel retrospective rather than a travel blog. My access to the Internet has been very sporadic the last ten days or so, and of course the great firewall of China does not help. But I will try to upload all the missing posts and add to some existing ones as I go along whenever I do have a decent connection... But a nice little journal / sketchbook is my daily friend, so I don't lose all my thoughts in the almost non-existent but polluted Chinese wind.