The game takes place in the Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei area where many different architectural elements can be distinguished and urban development in all its forms is very visible.

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Points of Interests

1. 西九龍裁判署  South Kowloon Magistracy
2. 循道衞理教堂 Methodist Church
3. 天后廟 Tin Hau Temple
4. 榕樹頭  Yung Shue Tau
5. 油麻地停車場  YMT Carpark + 甘肅街街市 Kansu St Mkt
6. 玉器市場 Jade Market
7. 油麻地警署 YMT Police Station
8. 百老匯電影中心 Broadway Cinematheque
9. 果攔 + 油麻地戲院  Fruit Mkt + YMT Theatre
10. 紅磚屋+窩八  Red Brick House + 8 Waterloo Road
10a. Chinese shophoues on Shanghai Street
11. 砵蘭街 Portland Street
12. 新填地街 Reclamation Street
13. 朗豪坊 Langham Place

Yau Ma Tei and Shanghai Street

This was one of the major Chinese settlements when the British occupied the Kowloon peninsula.  Shanghai Street was a major thoroughfare first built in the 1870s.  Several reclamations followed and even after the plague in 1894 Yau Ma Tei had kept its status as the most populous district in Kowloon as well as a busy commercial district.  Tin Hau Temple on Temple Street (1840s, rebuilt 1870) and the market in front of the temple was the centre of action.  Construction of several public facilities still standing further consolidated the status of the area, including the Wholesale Fruit Market in 1913, the Police Station in 1922 and the Yau Ma Tei Theatre in 1925.

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However Shanghai Street was slowly superseded by Nathan Road from the 1960-70s and faded into a sleepy back street, whereas Mong Kok eventually took over Yau Ma Tei as the prime district. .  There are relatively few new buildings and still a handful of pre-war shophouses.  Many of the shops along the Yau Ma Tei stretch of Shanghai Street specialize in traditional Chinese embroidery/ wedding supplies and professional kitchen utensils.  The shops and the merchandises here are like a living museum and a window to fast-disappearing cultures.  The newer generations are clueless about these traditions.

The backstreets have the advantage of being ignored by developers and thus maintain the local flavors long lost on the developed streets.  Due to the lower rent we can still find the occasional restaurants, barbershops and other establishments running business here after 40 or 50 years.  Generally any place older than 30 years can be considered old institutions in Hong Kong where nothing lasts.

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Today the little park known as Yung Shue Tau in front of Tin Hau Temple has become a public square where the elderly from the neighbourhood play chess throughout the day and practice tai chi in the morning.  For decades the sidewalk outside of the square together with the Temple Street is converted every evening into a night market of fortune-tellers, street performers and makeshift stalls selling cheap souvenirs and sundries.  Views of the surrounding residential remnants can be found at most angles from the 8-storey Yau Ma Tei Public Carpark facing Shanghai Street, which houses more than 750 parking spaces.  The Carpark structure, itself a functional government building, is particularly striking with a 2-lane highway flyover built right through it after the original building construction had been completed and in use for some years. The Community Centre next to it further renders the place into a local favourite for social interaction.

The best vantage point to take in the going-ons at the public square and the immediate area is from the first floor of the Mido Café, itself an exemplary establishment typical of the by-gone era.  It is housed in the lower two floors of a corner building.  The décor has remained untouched in a time capsule.  The menu exemplifies the east-meets-west culinary patterns at the ubiquitous “Cha Chan Teng” (Hong Kong-style café).

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The Jade Market near the flyover in Kansu Street is a mecca for collectors from all over the world. About 400 registered stall-owners sell amulets, ornaments, necklaces and trinkets made from the revered green stone believed to possess the power of warding off evil spirits and protecting travelers.

A few steps away from the market lies the Broadway Cinematheque, offering cinephiles one-stop service of cinema, café, bookstore and disc store under one roof. The Cinematheque is located amongst government-subsidized residential development, pulling together film enthusiasts and local residents who share the public space in front of the cinema in their cultural pursuits or daily activities.

The Wholesale Fruit Market is another interesting public facility along Waterloo Road.  Other than the chain supermarkets, many smaller retailers come here at the wee hours before 6 or 7am to select and buy.  The streets outside of the market are often congested and blocked by trucks and trolleys in the middle of the night.  The maze like market consists of rows of tiny connecting warehouses and is a favourite location for action films.  The adjacent 80 year-old Yau Ma Tei Theatre was once the largest theatre in Kowloon. The Theatre fell into disrepair in the 1980s and 90s when it became a cinema showing porno films.  It closed down at the turn of the millennium but has luckily escaped the bulldozer and is currently slated for remodeling into a centre for Chinese Opera.

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Just around the corner is the former pumping station of Water Supplies Department commonly known as the Red Brick House.  The building is a small two-storey structure with a Chinese tiled roof and red brick walls in Flemish bond that give it an English cottage appearance.  Right above it situates the high-rise reddish residential towers 8 Waterloo Road which highlights the complex from its vernacular surroundings in contrasting rouge.

Mong Kok and Langham Place

Mong Kok is the busiest area in Hong Kong, crowded with locals and tourists day and night.  It is mainly residential and commercial with fewer industrial facilities apart from the ubiquitous workshops and trades along the backstreets.  Before the advent of malls in Hong Kong it was THE place for shopping from women’s wear, sneakers, pet fish and flowers to all other everyday needs, each with its designated streets.  Instead of getting saturated with standardized high-rise public housing estates, most of Mong Kok’s characteristic private buildings have mixed commercial/residential use.  There is no public housing estate in Mong Kok and the area was mainly developed by private developers.
Langham Place is so far the biggest urban redevelopment project in Mong Kok by the government and private developers.  It was a massive project of a 5-star hotel, office towers and over 10 stories of shopping space, pulling down old buildings on several city blocks and took 2 decades to fully complete.  It is the only large shopping mall in Mong Kok.  But the shops and stalls outside of Langham Place keep doing brisk business and the streets are busy as ever.  However there had been a significant rent hike immediately outside the mall and some of the older business and shops were pushed to close.  Gentrification also pushed the sex trades at the previous Langham Place location to Yau Ma Tei or other areas.

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Portland Street just before Langham Place is exclusive territory for international building and home decoration supplies, from floor and wall tiles, bathroom and kitchen fixtures to wall papers and lighting.  Most of the shops here run branches in Wanchai on the opposite side of the harbour.  Specialty stores along the back streets further from Nathan Road, such as Reclamation Street and Canton Road carry heavier goods such as plumbing supplies, metal welding, timber and general hardware.  They are frequented by tradesmen as opposed to the average consumer.

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Re-architect

to redesign, make fundamental design changes


Re-architect is a game on urban design, play and transformation. The game takes players on a photographic treasure hunt along the architectural past, present and future of the city. As the game unfolds players are asked to respond to design principles, investigate their surroundings and photograph the city from different architectural perspectives.


Individually players will learn more on how they perceive the city, collectively all players create a new map of the city together.


Re-architect can both be played hi-tech, with GPS-enabled phones triggering game content by player’s positions and lo-fi using a hard-copy map.


Re-architect is also very much a discussion platform asking you to comment on the city’s changes not only from a architect’s perspective but also as a resident or visitor responding to public space. What kind of changes would you make in the city?


What would you re-architect?

Business of Design Week ’08

Re-architect is part of the DEtour program at Business of Design Week ’08 Hong Kong (BoDW). The BoDW is referred to as “one of the most significant annual events on the international design calendar , Asia’s leading design event on innovation, design and brand, attracts the best of the global design world to Hong Kong. “ (source bodw.com)

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