First Hong Kong Biennale
by Jo Baker
Construction frenzy may have taken hold of Shanghai and Beijing, not to mention China's hundreds of other towns and cities. But for the past ten years, Hong Kong has floated behind serenely, like a successful, rather conservative older cousin.
Still, there are signs that the city is developing something that other Chinese cities lack: public discourse. Its first architecture biennale, running through March 15, 2008, headlines a growing public interest in the built environment.
Staged in the old colonial rooms and cells of the historic Central Police Station, the biennale is showcasing works by 60 local and mainland Chinese architects, with a few exhibitors from beyond, and is a joint effort of the territory's top professional design bodies.
It is running in tandem with a similar show in Shenzhen, a Chinese city and Special Economic Zone just across Hong Kong's northern border. The theme is "Refabricating City," and looks into the idea that modern cities must be regularly and consciously reworked to succeed.
The theme allows plenty of room for discussion. Do cities have a "sell by" date? How much of the past should be preserved for a meaningful future? How much input should the public have? All are hot topics in a town that struggles to balance its commercial development with cultural identity.
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New visions for Hong Kong's Central Waterfront were solicited for the 2008 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture.
Photo: Mike Johnston
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Designers in the dense metropolises of Hong Kong and Shenzhen (a Chinese city just to the north) coordinated a joint architecture biennale running through mid-March 2008 with the theme "Refabricating City."
Photo: Steve Webel
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