Location: Hong Kong
Year: April 2022
NULLAHPLACE was designed with the objective of demonstrating how the use of temporary urban design interventions can be an effective bottom-up planning tool to reactivate abandoned and residual urban spaces of the city. By exploring the idea of ‘making place’ as a method to develop a more inclusive and vibrant urban environment, the project was conceived to create new areas for social interaction in this dense urban area of Kowloon. This low-cost urban intervention was completed in 9 working days during the month of April 2022, involving students, volunteers, and members of the community.
Hong Kong is well known for its vertical density and the bold and expressive super scale text ‘nullah’ which remarks the name of the nearby road can be seen clearly from the buildings surrounding the site. By using a combination of colorful and geometric patterns the text extends all over the floor creating a sequence of flexible spaces in relationship with the linear and regular geometry of the district. At eye level, a distinctive graphic language in English and Chinese aims to engage the users of the space with friendly and thoughtful messages. The urban furniture, which consists of colorful and movable elements, intends to attract different type of users and can be combined with the geometry and colors of the floor in flexible spatial configurations. The possibility of moving chairs, tables, and plants provides opportunities for active and passive engagement while stimulating different grades of socialization among users.
NULLAHPLACE is part of a three-year research plan that aims to implement new places for social interaction in old urban areas of Hong Kong. The impact of NULLAHPLACE is being currently measured by using empirical research methods comparing data collected before, during, and after the realization of the project. The community’s involvement was carefully monitored to assess their levels of satisfaction and their perceptions regarding the results achieved. The incremental approach of this design research, through a feedback loop of experimentation and evaluation, will be extremely beneficial in understanding the needs of the citizens at different stages of the process. In addition, it will empower the citizens to take ownership of their local environment.
The result of this applied urban research could eventually be incorporated into the ongoing revision of chapter 4 – Recreation, Open Space and Greening – and Chapter 11 of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG). The established collaboration with the Planning Department will facilitate the translation of the research findings into a specific set of guidelines that would impact not only the revitalization of residual/abandoned or dysfunctional urban spaces but potentially all the new urban developments across Hong Kong.