Brownfield Tower: A New Territory 棕地大厦
Venice Biennale 2018 Hong Kong Exhibition
The Brownfield Tower is a playful response to the Hong Kong government’s option to verticalize brownfield operations into a multi-storey building. The term “brownfield” in Hong Kong generalizes all industrial yards (car repairs, container, recycling, parking, storage, etc.) located on former agricultural land. Brownfields are examined as sites of accumulation and production of pollution and waste, acknowledging their necessary existence as the unwanted backyard of modern urbanization.
The tower relocates Hung Lung Hang (恐龍坑), an ambiguous terrain in New Territory north near the HK-SZ border where waste operations coexist with unconventional public programmes: war game zones, graves for indigenous villagers, model car race track, recreational farming, etc. The façade plays with contradictory perception about the city’s waste ecology: data vs composite land formation, technology vs primitive, order and efficiency vs material discordance. The tower’s parti separates façade as vertical circulation, structure as infrastructure and infill as informal brownfields, embodying the makeshift tectonic of waste reuse, pollution and contaminated nature through self-building, extension and colonization of ground.
The tower contends that brownfields have a far greater significance, meaning and utility than is commonly thought, and that an appreciation of their particular qualities is urgently required to inform a much more engaged and reciprocal approach to the planning, design and management of their complex ecologies.
This project forms part of a broader design research interest to rethink the ambiguous landscapes found in the New Territories – including brownfields, ecological landscape and wetlands, vacant and agricultural land, urban villages, new town developments, alternative visions for New Development Areas (NDAs) – and questions to what extent architectural design can contribute to the issues involved.
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