The Future of the Past Poster

Few parts of the world have developed as quickly over the last forty years as the Pearl River Delta, which includes Macau and Hong Kong, and few areas face the kinds of community- and market-based pressures still at work in the area today. This symposium seeks to discuss modern architecture’s legacy in the region as well as the risks and potential offered by new practices aimed at conserving it.

Date: Saturday, January 31, 2-5:30 pm
Venue: Knowles Building Room 419, University of Hong Kong

Schedule and List of Speakers

Panel 1, 2 – 3:45 pm: Reevaluating Conservation in the 21st Century

Welcome and Introduction

2 pm: “Integrating New Design with the Modern Old: Revitalising Modern Movement Buildings”

Hoyin Lee, Associate Professor, Architectural Conservation Programmes, University of Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, “revitalisation” began life in 2008 under the Revitalisation Scheme, an initiative that is part of the implementation of Hong Kong’s Conservation Policy.  Under this scheme, a number of government-owned heritage buildings have been revitalised, or, in other words, given “a new lease on life” through adaptation for new or continuing uses.  Using innovative examples from overseas, Mainland China and Hong Kong, this lecture explores the approach of revitalisation and the inherent adaptability of Modern Movement buildings given the design principles that informed the style.

2:20 pm: “Modernist mass housing: towards a global historical and conservation overview”

Miles Glendinning, Professor, Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, University of Edinburgh

This lecture presents an introductory overview of the numerous modern mass housing programmes built across the world beginning in the early twentieth century, with particular focus on several “hotspots” marked by intense political or demographic pressure. Through these works, I aim to offer a unifying narrative of these vast construction campaigns and the built environments these campaigns produced. A look at the range of divergent strategies aimed at conserving these mass housing projects also reveals the challenges groups like Docomomo International face in their efforts to draw attention to these more recent examples of global architectural heritage.

2:40 pm: “Modern Built Heritage – Who’s Definition?”

Andrew Lam Siu-lo, Chairman, Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB), Hong Kong

3 pm: “Saving the ‘Modern’ Central Government Offices on Government Hill, Hong Kong”

Katty Law, Member, Central & Western Concern Group

This presentation will report on the community-initiated campaign to save the old Central Government Offices on Government Hill, a modernist-inspired architectural complex built in the 1950s. The campaign successfully stimulated discussion on the city’s modern architectural history as well as the protection of a public heritage site against commercial development. As I will argue, this campaign is an excellent example of how members of the public can engage with the government and business leaders to preserve Hong Kong’s architectural heritage.

3:20 pm: Discussion led by Melissa Cate Christ, Research Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Polytechnical University

Break, 3:45 – 4 pm

Panel 2, 4 – 5:30 pm: Modern Architecture in the Pearl River Delta

4 pm: “Modernism and Hong Kong.”

Cole Roskam, Assistant Professor, University of Hong Kong; founding member, Docomomo Hong Kong

Although architectural modernism’s emergence around the world over the course of the 20th century parallels a vital era in Hong Kong’s own architectural development, modernism’s legacy within the city remains a poorly understood and overlooked component of its overall architectural and urban heritage. This presentation reassesses the importance of modern architecture to Hong Kong as evinced through the recent efforts of Docomomo Hong Kong, which has begun to map key examples of modern architecture in the city and raise public and official awareness to modern architecture’s historical value in Hong Kong.

4:20 pm: “Journey to the East.”

Rui Leao, Vice President, Architects Association of Macau; President, Docomomo Macau Chapter

The first incursions into Asia by European architects and intellectuals in the beginning of the 20th century — from Hermann Hesse to Bruno Taut to Pierre Jeanneret and others — had a significant impact on the development of modern architecture in the region. Fascination with “the East” by these intellectuals was related not only to notions of otherness but with the search for inspiration in other cultural traditions with respect to concepts of form and function, the historical balance between the individual and the collective.  This paper examines the Portuguese School of Macau, designed by the Portuguese architect Raúl Chorão Ramalho, through the broader contextual lens of these encounters.  Through it, we see issues of light, orientation, natural ventilation, proportion, materiality operating as critical instruments in the negotiation between architectural modernism and the various cultural and geographic contexts within which it developed.

4:40 pm: “Fish and the Pavilion: The origins of tropical modernism in South China.”

Feng Jiang, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Architecture, South China University of Technology

This presentation examines notions of tropical modernism as they began to develop in Guangzhou during the 1950s among a group of architects interested in climatically adaptive architectural design. As I will argue, the origin of these ideas may be traced back to a 1951 fair and the design of a series of exhibition pavilions – most notably a pavilion devoted to aqua-production techniques – around the remains of Guangzhou’s original thirteen hongs.

5 pm: Concluding discussion


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