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Designing Hong Kong: building on a 'barren island', dwelling in a 'good-place land'

Sherman, Louisa Elizabeth; (2019) Designing Hong Kong: building on a 'barren island', dwelling in a 'good-place land'. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This ethnography in the field of urban anthropology explores how the areas known as Central or Chung Wan and the Mid-Levels on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island were ‘designed’ – that is how building and dwelling on this steep locale with scant flat land emerged through peoples’ agency as places, spaces and buildings. Central and the Mid-Levels are areas on Hong Kong Island which is part of Hong Kong, both a city and a territory, with a British colonial history (1841-1997) and that has been returned to China. // This study focuses on the largest things that people make, namely buildings and the urban environment and once made, how they affect dwelling in the public realm. This trading port, driven by the profits derived from the consumption of tea, porcelain, silk and opium, was from the outset shaped by the shortage of flat land for building upon, its safe, deep harbour and the labour, practices and customs of sojourners from China and Britain. A place, with no natural resources but the resourcefulness of its people, formed global networks as a free port, a transhipment and transportation hub but was vulnerable to global and transnational financial and political events. // Focusing upon a pathway along the world’s longest outdoor escalator as a metonym for the design and building of and dwelling in Hong Kong Island, this research considered: the tactics of land reclamation; vertical and volumetric building, spaces and places; how the above/below dyadic principle gained ground; the assemblages created by the continual rebuilding of the city, and the emphasis upon connectivity in the city. This resulted in high density, volumetric dwelling practices and a paucity of public open space. The question posed in this study is whether the ‘designing’ of Hong Kong delivers a ‘nowhere place’ or ‘good place’ land.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Designing Hong Kong: building on a 'barren island', dwelling in a 'good-place land'
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082279
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