|Project||Hong Kong Exhibition at the Venice Biennale|
|Brief||Ghostwriting the Future|
Curated, designed and built by Oval Partnership
Exhibitors: ANTs, CAVE, Wallace Chang, Foster and Partners, Hidden Agenda, HK Honey, HK Farm, Oval Partnership, Rocco Design, Ronald Liu and Partners, Eric Schuldenfrei
David Chipperfield chose his title for the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, Common Ground, for its double meaning: shared ideas / shared territory. He hoped to reconnect architects, both to each other and to the wider public and to expand the debate on how we jointly shape our shared built environment.
In Hong Kong this double meaning has added poignancy. The phrase ‘one country, two systems’ is a maxim constantly under interrogation. To what extent does Hong Kong retain a different system, and how does this different system envisage the involvement of its citizens in shaping their future?
We chose to explore these questions in the context of the regeneration of South East Kowloon, the redevelopment of which became feasible following the departure of Kai Tak Airport in 1998, and has been the subject of heated debate ever since.
The exhibition aimed to recreate the complex, partial, fragmented experience of passing through a city full of competing voices and spaces. As curators we became ghostwriters, threading stories from past, present and future through real and speculative propositions for the South East Kowloon development area and beyond: cutting and pasting, juxtaposing and re-contextualising, time-shifting. We saw this as a way of conjuring memory and individual experience into an abstract master plan, as a way of furthering local debate and dialogue and as a way of evoking the past whilst celebrating the unofficial, ad hoc re-inhabitation of this rapidly changing area.
Successful cities are permissive, embracing a spirit of multiplicity and difference, of subversion and invention. Without the underground, the semi-legal and the anti-authoritarian, cities become sterile and predictable. Biologically dead.
Our exhibition presents some of the official, large-scale new uses proposed for South East Kowloon, and the unofficial, unplanned, locally generated activities that occupy the cracks and crevices in between. These, with a little water, might flower into a rich meadow.