2013 BI-CITY BIENNALE OF URBANISM\ARCHITECTURE
The undulating form of Morphway investigates the struggle undergoing in the bamboo scaffolding practice in Hong Kong. This waning craft and business is at its edge to find its place in our hyper-modern environment. The bamboo structure reaches out from the ground and morphs its way over the bridge and beyond, intending to become a spatial construct.
We believe that the ideal city cannot be well planned, created, led or formulated by a group of commanders, e.g. the authority. The ideal city should provide a free, innovative and engaging platform that encourages collaboration and co-creation between the residents and the city. It should fuel creativity, imagination and an open dialogue by inviting diverse communities to experience freely with the nature and the city's urban environment. Through the empowering experience of co-creation, the residents can catch the spark of creativity, transforming their everyday lives and the lives of those around them. The famous British Sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy, said, “We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separated from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we've lost our connection to ourselves". The “platform”, which leads a city to be “ideal”, should remind the residents of the nature that they dwell in where all the human innovations happen within. They may simultaneously view, touch, feel, listen and smell the sky, the greenery, the wind and other natural elements and phenomena in that “ideal city”.
Hong Kong is often coined the term – “concrete forest”. As a group of Hong Kong practicing architects who grew up in this living environment, we often question what the most dominating natural element in Hong Kong’s architectural environment and practice is. We observe and perceive bamboo as one of those natural elements that struggles to reconcile within this “ideal” city. The bamboo business in Hong Kong is at the “urban edge” which is often regarded as a backyard material in our hyper-modern environment - they are often baffled by its popularity. Indeed, the bamboo business is more interesting than other architectural jobs in Hong Kong. It is difficult to teach people verbally on how to build a bamboo scaffolding, experience is an important factor in their work. In the past, this industry drew people into it by word of mouth - through a relative or scaffolder friend. It has been regarded as a low-class profession, and often portrayed as extremely dangerous. Young people dislike the work because of the hardships, hygienic issues and generally poorly paid. However, there are no places which still use bamboo scaffolding like we do in Hong Kong - not even in China. If we do not appreciate the skills and knowledge, it will disappear one day.
Where tall, skinny buildings shoot up daily in Hong Kong in striving to form an “ideal” image, more than five million six to seven metre long bamboo rods are used every year in the construction industry. But the future of the scaffolding business remains precarious, due to the lack of new blood and the diminishing supply of the raw material bamboo - which is both cheaper and less destructive than metal alternatives. It is our interest to collaborate with the local bamboo master in the “urban edge” to explore the possibilities of bamboo scaffolding in the art & design industry, and bring Hong Kong's bamboo masters to be treated more like craftsmen rather than mere construction workers.
We hope to explore the possibilities of engaging the public by providing space for projects that inspire unique creativity. This installation at Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in Hong Kong will act as a microcosm of our “ideal city”. The installation becomes a venue and a platform for which local young designers are welcomed to engage their design with. The installation aims to promote community culture and encourage public co-creation in the “ideal city”, at the same time as an example of applying sustainable thinking of up-cycling used materials as well as adopting autopoietic computer aid design tools and digitally controlled fabrication methods that are beneficial to both design communication and project time control.