“Hong Kong, the City Without Ground
Nate Berg. August 20, 2012.
For miles and miles, you can walk through the city of Hong Kong without ever once putting a foot on the ground. All day you can get everywhere you need to go, taking care of any errand you might have on your list, all while separated from the streets and surface of the city. This is possible thanks to the network of elevated walkways and underground tunnels that have gradually developed in the city – both formally and informally – over the past 50 years.
It’s an impressively widespread pedestrian infrastructure, linking people to the waterfront city’s wide array of transportation options. And as a forthcoming book contends, it’s also a new kind of civic space and even a new form of citymaking. Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook, out in September from ORO Editions, considers the city through the lens of these above- and below-ground walkways, creating the first-ever maps showing the extent and variety of these networks.
Co-authored by Adam Frampton, Jonathan D. Solomon and Clara Wong, architects and academics who spent time living and working in Hong Kong, the book comprehensively documents the walkways through highly detailed drawings and 3D models. Mostly visual, it presents a different kind of city guide, showing both how to get around within these networks and how they’ve developed and grown despite any formal planning or blueprint.
“It’s an exciting urban experience,” says Solomon, now associate dean at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. “You’re constantly shifting from underground to above ground, from interior to exterior, from air-conditioned to non-air-conditioned, from public to private, and the dimensions are constantly going from large spaces to tighter spaces.”
The walkways are so varied because they were all developed at different times and by different people. The first was built in the 1960s by the Hongkong Land company, one of the main developers in the region, to connect a high-end hotel to the second-story of a shopping mall. Gradually they began to see that they could rent out the walkway-accessible second story retail space in the mall for as much or even more than the ground floor space, and so the company started building more and more walkways connecting their various properties.
“And then the government saw it and said, ‘Hey this looks like a good way to circulate people without getting in the way of the movement of cars.’ So they start building bridges to link the ferries and the trains and the buses and everything into the center of the city,” Solomon says.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities
Photo: Adam Frampton
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