Reclaiming Hong Kong: destiny, fate, and transdisciplinarity


Working with the Kai Tak River Project, the Chinese University Hong Kong School of Architecture, and communities of East Kowloon, it became apparent that the ‘River’ is, in fact, an unsustainable sewage channel that has been  reconceptualised to support low-density ‘gentrified’ housing development. However, placed in the context of different timescales (return on development investment, integration with mainland China, climate change, sea level rise, water scarcity and food security) new realities and opportunities emerge.

Annexed from China under threat of war, this former British colony was built on the labour of migrant populations and coastal wetlands. The irony is that by 2048, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will pass completely to the mainland Government at about the same time as the reclaimed land of one of the world’s most densely populated, and busiest financial trading centres is reclaimed by the ocean. But in a hundred years from the initial hand-back (2097) Hong Kong has the potential to re-invent itself as a ‘Special Ecological Region’. Given the evolution of these complex economic, political and environmental systems, this paper argues for the deconstruction of ‘the city’ – a paradigm shift to urban form as an integrated whole system metabolism.

Focusing on the ecological arts project, Life Support System: Towards 2048, Beyond 2097, to explore these issues, this paper will further consider the relationships between traditional Chinese knowledge, contemporary ‘systems thinking’, and arts practice. This will reveal the disjuncture, and some of the myths embedded in normative forms of thinking and education, policy and governance. It will, also, offer the potential for Fung Shui, an ecological epistemology, and art as transdisciplinarity.


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