It has been two weeks since I left Hong Kong, but literately every day during the past two weeks I talked about our experience in HK to other people. Now I am doing a short internship in Hangzhou, which is a beautiful city in mainland China (nobody should miss this city if he/she decide to travel around China), crowded like Hong Kong but very different in many ways.
First similar phenomenon is the way people crossing street, it scared me a lot because it seems that pedestrians never care about what color the street light is when they decide to go to the other side of the street. But it also indicates people used to be the owner of streets, they were used to walk freely on streets without vehicles. And similarly to what we saw in one of the video during a lecture in HK that people using street to do their daily activity, I have seen people in Hangzhou would just pull out chairs and sit in the middle of a narrow walkway, and chatting in a group of two or three like there is nobody. But the real situation is that pedestrians are passing by them all the time, and they have to walk on the car lane to pass through because these people sitting on chairs blocked their way. But it only happens in secondary or minor streets. I guess the reason why people still doing this is because first, they used to this living style, second, the design of their community is lack of public gathering space. People have to adapt their situation but it doe not always turn out to be a genius solution. The designer of our site did a great job on creating several public social space in different scale around the whole estate. Our interviewees, especially elderlies told us that they spend most of their time in the public space instead of staying inside. Children have different playground to chose, and their parents can sit around chatting with others while watching their kids.
For residences in Yat Tung Estate, mostly are low-incoming people and a lot immigrations with different religions and ethnicities, they really pay no attention on whether the design of this estate is responding to surrounding natural environment or not, topography or shoreline for instance. They like the shades created by surrounding high rise blocks, which makes the out door space very comfortable.
We didn’t get permit to go inside, but I guess there is no roof garden in any of those blocks that is very different from Harbin. Because our climate makes it impossible to stay outside during winter, and people don’t want to suffering from the heat during summer when they all have AC at home, the most valuable space is usually indoor commercial space that face to main streets. Thus to make more benefits, a lot new development will have high rise residential structures on top of commercial spaces on lower floor( we called them “skirt houses” 裙房 in Chinese), and the roof of these commercial houses becomes the community park for residences. It is very common both for low income housing and regular residential developments.
A good design can really benefit people’s life, creating comfortable public space is one of the most influential aspect, which I will definitely put a lot efforts on in my future projects.
Hopefully the following address works, here is the video. Yat Tung Estate