Social [PLAY]Ground

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Buildings form the building block of a city, though it is the spaces in between that lie the life of the city. Within the planned urban environment, there are always leftover spaces that fall into the field of indeterminacy, an element of freedom within these spaces that let the imaginations run wild and allow opportunities for public interpretation. Often it is these spaces that encourages the production of a richer urban fabric which nurtures life, foster creativity and raises locality. These spaces, outside the grand plans of architects and urban planners, create the essential qualities of a livable city.

In The Production of Space, Lefebvre argues that space is produced in a dialectical manner and in a constant state of flux through its conception, use and perception over time, making space unfinished and continuously produced. Within this pluralistic nature, the spaces of indeterminacy play a consciously transgressive role within the highly controlled and surveyed urban landscape. A correlation could thus be drawn between these spaces, the activities of the people within them, their daily lives and the overall community. Their openness allows liberal interpretation and promotes spontaneous events, chance encounters, the enjoyment of diversity and the discovery of the unexpected, reflecting the signs of a rich democratic realm.

In view of the conflicting relationship between urban re-development and the existence of grassroot livelihood/subculture in our society, the project asserts that indeterminate spaces within our city possess the seeds of active urban democracy. These spaces serve as a secondary network for the marginal community from formal urbanism when appropriate intervention is imposed. By reconsidering the architectural praxis of public spaces and the relationship between space, material, time and participatory hierarchies, the design responds to the community’s needs and nurture locality, one in which it is architecture acts not as a result, but as a process for the production of space, time and social being.

Proposed for a semi-abandoned wet market in Sham Shui Po, the intervention attempts to reinterpret the public market as a strong social vehicle that drives the livelihood of the community. In contrast to the typical government typology of vertical markets, the linear form of the existing structure is exploited to uncover the hidden effect through delicate interventions. Spatial conditions and spontaneous social activities are brought about through the planned market programme, and through time and consolidation, transform the market into a social infrastructure that embraces the neighborhood by interpreting it as an open public space for the underprivileged that has deprived from the highly controlled and unified urban environment under the district redevelopment.

Four main strategies: Retain, Flow, Radiate and Intensify, are employed to prepare the site ready for the embracement of social happenings and changes. All four executions bear the concept of cutting, carving and connecting spaces, either visually or physically, to disturb the currently orthogonal and much contained tube-like space. In doing so, anchoring and concentration points are self-initiated for people to appropriate. A second layer of activities ground is inserted in between the leftover space between the market and the highway to mobilize the site and provide an initial point for the transformation process to take place.

The spaces constructed serves as the background for the production of life, with the people factor being the main actor to drive the dynamics and adaptation of the place, all through their instinctive daily use of space being originated from their routine visit to the market. This simple manipulation of space through design becomes the trigger for a bottom up transformation of the market into a multi-dimensional public social ground.

TEAM: Joey Yim
TYPE: Social Infrastructure
PROGRAMME: Market Transformation



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