Hong Kong’s fighting spirit
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 11:27am on 27th November 2014
1. Large-scale boardgame and dice, Admiralty, November 2014.
2. Designed poster by different artists & designers or different public figures & film characters holding umbrellas, Admiralty, November 2014.
3. Constructed large umbrella and stairway over road barrier, Admiralty, November 2014.
4. Assembled wind turbine generating 12volts of electricity, Admiralty, November 2014.
All photographs: John Batten.
(中文翻譯請往下看 Please scroll down to read the Chinese translation.)
As Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement continues into its second month at the time of writing, the three main protest areas of Admiralty, Mongkok and Causeway Bay can offer inspiration to urban planners, designers, architects and the community as a whole.
What makes these three particular sites unique is that they have a particular ‘Hong Kong’ feel: a ‘make do’ and inventive construction approach to solving practical design problems with limited and at-hand material, similar to the vernacular architecture seen in Hong Kong’s street markets and previous squatter areas.
Likewise, the graphic representations seen in the thousands of posters and banners at the sites demonstrate great humour and satirical flair. What has been remarkable is how students have realised that their ability to reach out to a wider public relies on good organisation and being seen to be serious about their actions.
With many boycotting university classes, students gathered to hear alternative lectures and seminars at Tamar Park in late September; it was here that students first demonstrated their exceptional organisation skills. The park was rigged with a sound system, a stage was built and tents housed a range of activities. Most impressive was the ‘media area’, with students communicating on their computers about protest activities and issues relating to universal suffrage through a range of social and traditional media to the world.
Hong Kong’s professional politicians and government agencies could learn much from the way these students effectively use the internet, and translated lectures and other information into real-time English for the foreign press and readers from around the world.
Over the ensuing month, despite occasional hostility between members of the public at protest sites, the students organised a well functioning community to protest, study, live and discuss pro-democracy issues.
Importantly, the occupation of these places have been free of cars and traffic, creating quiet areas to walk, sit and talk — showing how easily and successfully Hong Kong can, should and must have an entirely new approach to urban planning.
A version of this article was originally published in Perspective, December 2014.