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Research

In synergy with the programme the following research projects are currently underway.

“Magic Carpet” is a novel approach to community participation and empowerment. This outreach project aims to cultivate a sense of belonging in Tin Shui Wai’s community, where teenagers create video-interviews about their neighbourhood, using screenings, gatherings and social media to engage people in urban planning and transformation of public space.

This outreach project brings our idea of the “Magic Carpet” – a creative device for re- envisioning community space – to different areas in Hong Kong. It was first tested this year in Sai Ying Pun, a compact inner-city district on Hong Kong Island. More than 20 students from a local secondary school created over 40 video- interviews about the neighbourhood, which were screened in an open public space of the district (i.e. Centre Street) at Mid-Autumn Festival on September 19, 2013. The videos remain publicly accessible as part of the district’s oral history on the project’s online archive. After the well-received public screening, this KPF project was incorporated by CUHK in its 50th Anniversary programme.

Since the very beginning, the idea of a flying carpet has been envisioned to be easily movable to other places, thus creating an accumulative effect of citizen empowerment in Hong Kong. The second edition of the “Magic Carpet” thus intends to let the carpet “fly” from an old district (Sai Ying Pun) to a new town (Tin Shui Wai). As with the existing KPF project, “Magic Carpet: Tin Shui Wai” aims to strengthen the sense of belonging among local residents and community members, though creating – at least temporarily – a very different urban environment, which reveals potentials for transformation in the district.

A new town in the northern New Territories developed since the 1990s, Tin Shui Wai has been (in)famously labelled as the “City of Sorrow” in Hong Kong. Its poverty, domestic violence and migrant population from Mainland China are recurring issues of the district projected by the mass media.3 “Magic Carpet” therefore aims to re- envision Tin Shui Wai and help remove its social stigma. And, as in this moment the HKSAR Government is planning to build the “Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area” for 160,000 new residents directly adjacent to Tin Shui Wai, it is crucial to revisit the planning of this new town from the perspective of its residents to learn from earlier mistakes.

With his co-investigators, the Coordinating Leader, Prof. Hendrik Tieben, therefore started to analyse the differences between the urban layouts of Tin Shui Wai and inner-city districts such as Sai Ying Pun. This study identified an important shortcoming in Tin Shui Wai’s urban design: the lack of active street spaces, which would otherwise allow social encounters and offer more opportunities for micro- economy in a district that has suffered from social isolation and limited employment. Following encouraging discussions with Prof. John Ng (member of the Hung Shui Kiu expert committee), the Coordinating Leader organised in spring 2013 the IFoU Winter School at the School of Architecture, in which 120 students from ten universities worldwide (ifou.org) participated in studying the areas of Hung Shui Kiu and Tin Shui Wai with the aim to brainstorm ideas for a sustainable plan benefitting the New Development Area, as well as the existing residents of Tin Shui Wai and Hung Shui Kiu. The findings of this workshop and the above mentioned research paper serve as the starting point for “Magic Carpet: Tin Shui Wai”.

The School of Architecture and the School of Journalism and Communication will once again collaborate to reach out to the community with the help of 20 student- ambassadors from Pui Shing Catholic Secondary School, a secondary school in Tin Shui Wai. They will conduct interviews and create videos about the community life there. The students will pair up to study different areas in Tin Shui Wai, and use their existing connections to interview residents, shop owners and users of the respective spaces by video, capturing the interviewees' community life and experiences in Tin Shui Wai's public spaces. Short videos where community member-interviewees talking about their experiences in the neighborhood and re- envisioning an ideal community space for themselves will be produced.

A street festival - the major event of this project – will be held in September 2014 for the whole community to enjoy, as a way to enhance social interaction and cultivate a sense of belonging among community members. The event comprised of an outdoor screening on Wang Yat Square (near Tin Sau Road Park) and other activities.

Please visit the Magic Carpet website for more details.

Other links of the Magic Carpet project: Facebook | YouTube | Flickr

Project Initiated by:
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Project Partner:
Pui Shing Catholic Secondary School

Project Team (CUHK):
Prof Hendrik Tieben, School of Architecture (Coordinating Leader)
Prof Anthony Fung, School of Journalism and Communication (Project Collaborator)
Yip Kai Chun (Manager)
Janice Leung (Research Associate)

Project duration: Mar 2014 – Feb 2015

Contact: YIP Kai Chun, Research Assistant, Magic Carpet Project Manager (yipkaichuns[at]gmail.com)

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This outreach project aims to cultivate a sense of belonging among the community members in Sai Ying Pun at a time of significant infrastructure developments.

The School of Architecture and the School of Journalism and Communication are collaborating to reach out to the community with the help of more than 20 student-ambassadors from King's College, a secondary school in Sai Ying Pun. They will conduct interviews and create videos about the community life there, using public screenings, exhibitions and social media to encourage community engagement in urban planning.

In order to encourage intergenerational interaction, the students will pair up to study different types of public spaces in the district (streets, alleys, parks and pocket parks), and use their existing connections to interview residents, shop owners and users of the respective spaces by video, capturing the interviewees' community life, memories, emotions and experiences in Sai Ying Pun's public spaces.

After a few months of research, interviewing, video-shooting and editing, each group of the student-ambassadors will create a short video where community member-interviewees will talk about their experiences in the neighborhood and re-envision an ideal community space for themselves.

A preview of those videos was be held at King's College in July 2013 as a trial event, for peer review and discussion. All teachers and students, and their families and friends were invited to join the preview. The video projects were further developed during the summer holiday.

In September 2013, a street festival - the major event of this project - was held for the whole community to enjoy, as a way to enhance social interaction and cultivate a sense of belonging among community members. The event comprised of an outdoor screening on Centre Street, the heart of Sai Ying Pun, where videos created by our student-ambassadors were played. See below, a video clip of the event.

Please visit the dedicated Magic Carpet website.

You can also find the Magic Carpet project on Facebook and Flickr.

Project Initiated by:
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Project Partners:
King's College
The Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage (CACHe)

Project Team (CUHK):
Prof Hendrik Tieben, School of Architecture (Coordinating Leader)
Prof Anthony Fung, School of Journalism and Communication (Project Collaborator)
Prof Colin Fournier (Project Collaborator)
Yip Kai Chun (Manager)
Janice Leung (Research Associate)

Project duration: Mar 2013 - Aug 2014

Contact: YIP Kai Chun, Research Assistant, Magic Carpet Project Manager (yipkaichuns[at]gmail.com)

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This second two-year General Research Fund project focuses on urban design guidelines as a tool to shape urban form and direct urban development. It will identify and compare the guidelines of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) cities: Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen. Due to their individual history and the “One Country two Systems” policy, these cities have different planning systems and design cultures. As Hong Kong and Macau become increasingly integrated into Mainland China, the understanding of these differences is important to create a more productive integration process and learn from the different experiences made. The project focuses in particular on those guidelines, which in various ways are affecting the four cities’ public realm.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Hendrik Tieben (CUHK)

Co-investigator: Prof. Doreen Heng Liu (CUHK)

Project duration: Jan 2013 - Dec 2014

Contact: Joanna Chu, Research Assistant (joanna[at]cuhk.edu.hk)

Back to top. Centre Street in Sai Ying Pun

The two-year General Research Fund project, awarded by the Hong Kong University Grants Committee, focuses on the Sai Ying Pun area on the west of Hong Kong Island. It is one of the oldest urban districts in the city.

Over the past few decades, Sai Ying Pun has been transforming as a result of infrastructure development initiated by both the Hong Kong government and the private sector, with the most recent examples being two projects carried out by the Urban Renewal Authority, the opening of an MTR station in 2014 and the ongoing construction of Centre Street Escalator.

Adopting a range of research methodologies – archival studies, ethnographic observation, photographic/video recording and interview, the project charts Sai Ying Pun's changing topography and social conditions over time, suggesting means to measure community benefit in the face of public space transformation. It aims to provide recommendations for policy makers and urban designers to reconsider the use of public space through a better allocation of resources, so as to revive the Sai Ying Pun community in this transitional period of radical redevelopment.

Sai Ying Pun

A number of issues to be examined include: How do community members in Sai Ying Pun experience and identify with their living environment and its transformation over the years? What are the problems posed by the urban development in Sai Ying Pun, which has affected the use of public space and the residents' quality of life? What are the possible remedies for those problems with regard to the residents' point of view? How is the case of Sai Yin Pun comparable with other urban renewal examples in Hong Kong and abroad, and how can we learn from them? How can urban designers, architects and the government work together with stakeholders of different interests, in the pursuit of revitalising Sai Ying Pun to benefit the local community?

Principal Investigator: Prof. Hendrik Tieben

Co-investigators: Prof. Essy Baniassad, Prof. Sujata Govada and Prof. Helen Grace

Project Consultants: Julian Kwong (Community for Road Safety), Daniel Paetzold

Supporting Organisation: The Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage (CACHe)

Research Team: Dylan Barnhill, Yan Chen, Meghan Farrell, Hardy Ho, Stella Ieong, Vanessa Kwok, Nick Lau, Janice Leung, Charles Lin, Ben MacLeod, Maria Rangel, Daniel Tang, Daisy Yuan

Project duration: Jan 2012 - Dec 2013

Contact: Janice Leung, Research Associate (janice.leung[at]cuhk.edu.hk)

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