Unfolding the Western District Public Cargo Working Area in Hong Kong

Benni Yu-ling Pong (MDes '17)

The Western District Public Cargo Working Area (WDPCWA) in Hong Kong is never planned and designed as a formal open space. Nonetheless, it is appropriated by the people as a public space. The Outstanding Public Space Awards 2013 in Hong Kong has triumphed the place with its degree of freedom and flexibility. Despite accessing the area for purposes other than logistic functions are technically unauthorized, the space, with its spectacular waterfront view, has received breadth of media coverage and attracts even regular crowds of people.

The institutional maps have portrayed the area as a plain and empty surface without representing the diverse human activities and interactions intertwined with political, economic, social and environmental nexuses that the space characterizes. Urban space terminologies, such as ‘terrain vague’, ‘insurgent space’, ‘loose space’ and ‘everyday urbanism’, have partially but not amply elucidate the essence of the space which is not uncommon in major cities. The space represents a different aesthetic appreciation, perception towards space and understanding of urbanism. This thesis aims to conceptualize and unravel the veiled folds embedded in the space, nuances which are often overlooked in design practice, through ethnographic methodology and visual representation. In response to the highly quantitative approaches commonly deployed, this project explores a more humanistic and meticulous approach to appreciate urban space.