Sunday, October 31, 2010

Abstract - draft 1

On a calm day, an average white-collar glides through the city. Glancing through the streetscape, the city operates just as he imagines. He meets a colleague, they exchange hallucinations. The storm arrives. The clustered ever more dense, the dispersed ever more open. Glass shatters, trees topple, but for once, they are real. 2010 is 1910. The global city, might as well, a barren rock.

This is a study of space through shifts in urban conditions brought about by extreme weather conditions. While the general user is often oblivious to his occupation of space, adverse weathers heighten the sense of surroundings and the existence (or non-existence) of the self. Space becomes sensitive and urbanization intensified as activity pattern tends to the extremes of either refuge or engagement of the storm. These shifts in urban behaviors would unveil latent spaces usually undetected in mild weathers, or instantly forgotten after the storm. The simultaneous change in density and degrees of activation would perhaps generate a more accurate image on the resiliency of the city, and help understand the effect of weather on urbanization.

The chosen site is Hong Kong, whose urbanization originated along the Victoria Harbor, but encounters 5-6 tropical cyclones annually. The preliminary scope of research includes documentations of typhoons in Hong Kong since late 19th century, typhoon-related constructions and their emerged culture throughout the century, and modes of preparation and recovery within the city. Critical questions include the identification of the existing weather-sensitive infrastructure, and exploration into the movement of typhoon, the distortion of time, and the change in perception of the city.

The mode of representation deployed should demonstrate the uncertain nature of extreme weathers and the shifts in urban scale. Other than the annual destructions, also the excitement and embracement of storm in people residing in the region.

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