January 26, 2022

Blog @ Munaf Sheikh

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an urban living room recalls collective memories of north point


 

‘siu kai fong’ is a vibrant urban living room

 

‘siu kai fong’ is a vibrant installation that aimed to enhance the quality of living in north point, an area populated with diverse neighborhoods. in response to hong kong arts center’s open invitation for community-driven public art, O&O studio and REHyphenation proposed an inspiring space as a reflection of the neighborhood’s daily usage of the causeway.

 

this way, the design team sought to empower the community to envision a better future use of public areas, all while utilizing some of the communal beloved furnishings, to recall memories from the past. the resulting project presents itself as a vivid compilation resembling an outdoor urban living room complemented by painted ground graphics.
all images courtesy of siu kai fong 

 

 

district’s narratives meet repurposed furnishings

 

after repeated visits, the team observed that the public pier was frequented by people participating in different activities at every hour of the day. people fished, boarded sampans, exercised, strolled on dates, or, particularly in the case of the area’s elderly, used the causeway for rest and relaxation. based on community discussions, they noticed that users of the causeway bring household furniture to use and share them with others. in contrast to the street furnishings provided by the state, these pieces are not fixed, so they can transfer them to where needed. and that exactly was the basis of the project. ‘we wanted siu kai fong to reflect the neighbourhood practise of re-using old furnishings but include pieces that have stories to tell’.

a vivid urban living room with beloved furnishings recalls collective memories
rocking chair donated by local resident and its replica

 

a lovely story behind each piece 

 

the team received 47 chairs and three tables through donations from local households, schools, and commercial enterprises. some of them were maintained as they were, preserving their memories, while others underwent changes. meanwhile, some pieces were accomplished with narratives by voice actors provided lively recordings via scanning QR codes.

 

one chair originally came from a colonial-era government office. it ended up in a student’s home and she grew up with the chair; even when she moved, she could not part with this piece of her upbringing. two other chairs originated from shops along with chun yeung street market. the rocking chair was a favorite place to sit for a north point grandmother. a small green plywood chair came from a women’s welfare club (eastern district) nursery. another chair was previously used in the now-defunct java road government school and turned up in a store operated by a family in java road market and cooked food center.

 

a few of the school chairs were bundled together and transformed into rocking chairs that all shared a base. items beyond repair were wrapped in clear acrylic to allow for usage alongside contemplation. the bright flooring is reminiscent of colourful heritage tiles and patterns commonly found in tenement buildings. some with deteriorated legs or worn seats required repairs.

a vivid urban living room with beloved furnishings recalls collective memories
school chairs donated by secondary, primary schools and kindergarten, upcycled to rocking chairs

 

‘siu kai fong made us realise the closeness of hong kong’s communities and the invisible connections that bind us all,’  added said li. ‘eventually, the government will build a promenade here for cycling and this collective space will be gone,’ noted fok. ‘siu kai fong acts as a record of a time and place in north point,’ said chan. ‘since its unveiling, we have been pleasantly surprised how people have used the chairs in unexpected ways. it is not a finite installation. we noticed many bringing new furniture there to share. siu kai fong has taken on a life of its own.’ 

 

after the exhibition ends, components from siu kai fong will live on through charity sales and educational events to achieve a closed-loop cycle that continues to benefit hong kong communities. together with the concerted efforts with the collaborators, hong kong arts centre design and engage the community with a series of participatory programmers and creative artistic structures to connect the new and the old areas in the district, building capacity on public space, celebrating the uniqueness of north point and hence cultivating a sense of belonging and building the cultural citizenship through imaginations of urban spaces.



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