HONG KONG’s upcoming artists and designers infiltrate the neighborhood of Wan Chai with public conversation boards, handmade vehicles, sound surveys and other explorations to culturally redefine public space in an ever-changing metropolis. They have taken over the former Wan Chai Police Headquarters and filled it with findings from investigations into a neighborhood shaped by the extremes of old and new, rich and poor. DETOUR 2012: Design Renegade – Prototyping Public Space aims to “cultivate awareness of the processes underway in public space in the city, as a measure of the health and vitality of the city at large”.
Love in Tai Kwok Tsui combined photographs of iconic Wanchai buildings with hand-drawn caricatures of the neighborhood characters who live there.
Living Pixels is a lighting collection produced by local Hong Kong women who sew recycled advertisement banners into irregular shaped lamps.
Artist Otto Li captured background music at different points around Wan Chai, translating it into a soundwave and then a touchable soundscape sculpture of pixel blocks.
Eggplant Production takes incredibly complex and detailed 2-D drawings and uses a 3-D printer to create beautiful tactile versions.
StickyLine design transforms paper into 3-dimensional forms that deconstruct and reconstruct space in an innovative form. They hosted a Coast Modules / Polygon Landfilling Workshop to raise awareness about the extensive reclamation work around the narrowing Victoria Harbour.
Human Screen by Lazehero
The Crying in Public experiment by Civic Center used street signs, removable vinyl stickers and chalkboards to engage passers-by with the emotional content of place. They aim to reclaim public space to “restore a sense of dignity, curiosity and basic empathy”, as one of Civic Center’s co-founders Candy Chang did in New Orleans with her “Before I Die” installation on abandoned houses after Storm Katrina.
Hong Kong recently proposed a new public policy plan to replace old diesel vehicles and deal with the increasing levels of pollution since 2007. The XYZ Mobile Factory reimagines a car-free district and conducts workshops where individuals can customize their own human-powered vehicles out of easily accessible materials.
Wave of Growth constructed frequencies from data about construction building across Hong Kong and in response created social furniture communicating this wave of growth, while giving the public a place to rest amid the continuous renewal and development projects.
The Shell Star Pavilion collaboration between Andrew Kudless and Riyad Joucka was developed through non-linear logistics of building construction aided by computer simulation. They see architecture as “a material body with its own intrinsic and extrinsic forces relating to form, growth and behaviour”. They aim to develop “material systems based on the hybridization of compressive materials and tensile membranes”.
In an era of digital space, these designers do not neglect and are unafraid to re-imagine the use of public space and physical materials. Where commerce guides most of human interaction, they admirably value being community-minded, emotionally communicative and most of all – fun.