Hong Kong’s public spaces consist predominantly of enormous parks and recreation facilities. Other semi-public spaces include multi-storey malls, racecourses, and exhibition centres. These interventions function at an intense urban and commercial scale, making it difficult for the human scale to find its place in the public day to day.
The aim of this proposal is to break this convention by inhabiting the abundance of smaller underused sites that make up the residual spaces of Hong Kong’s complex urban fabric. They are the spaces hidden physically, in corner lots behind skyscrapers, or spaces collectively forgotten yet in plain sight, like the stairs between freeways or the alleyway parks between buildings.
The design locates itself between a set of zig-zag stairs embedded in steep topography between Ship Street and Kennedy Road in Wan Chai. The stairs pass-by a small park, a few shops, and the historic Nam Koo building, the haunted house of Wan Chai.
The design desires to capitalize on the unique spatial qualities of the site which led to carving into the ground and embedding the program between the stairs. This creates a subtler form and a more surprising encounter. In addition to the main library program, varying places for performance such as an outdoor stage, sound-proof practise rooms, a small indoor amphitheatre, a firepit and a tea room are introduced. The aim is to create spaces that could house both planned and spontaneous storytelling, in small-scale sites existing throughout the city. Each library intervention can infill their unique sites with a specific theme and the required amenities to match. This method creates a network of smaller public spaces in the dense urban fabric that are able to serve the city at a community and human scale.
This shift to a smaller scale allows for a larger audience to enjoy more meaningful and specific forms of public space, that match Hong Kong’s density, eccentricities, and liveliness.