Hong Kong Map in Chinese
Swimming, floating, fleeing, sinking, how to absorb millions of climatic refugees?
Artificial islands are territorial fragments. They are constructed and destructed in a cycle that involves many of the forces characterizing human civilization. This cycle of production and destruction is a means of escaping the present and imagining the future. Cartography is a form of representation that often replaces the territory itself by imposing its own narrative upon it.
The rise in sea level induced by climate change is gradually redrawing the geographic map of the world by altering coastlines and creating new lands. In this context, man-made islands offer a valuable alternative to support a sustainable urban expansion with new modes of living, working and entertaining. Islands are paradigms of the human condition of life. They exacerbate both the logic and the characteristic modes of production and consumption of urban spaces. Artificial lands also provide distinctive hubs for tourism. Yet they cannot be recognized as islands nor generate their own maritime zones.
Pressed between sea and mountains, Hong Kong appears seems like a chaotic, hybrid and colourful built crystallization with a specific density. Informed by a complex geography, here the idea of concentric growth or continuous spread is replaced by a non-linear development of hyper-dense cores coexisting with the natural landscape, which constitutes more than 75 percent of the total land area. Framed by the city of Shenzhen to the north and the South China Sea on its three other sides, Hong Kong – 60 percent of which is composed of bodies of water – is entirely surrounded by China. A collection of more than 250 islands, most of them inhabited, the territory is now under pressure from Beijing to absorb new areas of urban sprawl in order to accommodate a 50 percent increase of its current population of 7.2 million inhabitants. Due to its historical struggles and the stress placed on its land resources, Hong Kong’s geography is a narrative that has been defined and redefined time and again in response to changes in political intentions and social and economical shifts. In contrast to traditional urban-planning strategies, its form fluctuates in a conflicting appropriation of recognized land and sea.
With MAP Office’s recent project The Invisible Islands (2013), a new perspective on Hong Kong’s composite territory may have emerged in the idea of populating the sea. The consequences of the Anthropocene age and the rise in sea level induced by climate change have conspired to provide the opportunity to redraw the world’s geographical atlas by altering coastlines and creating new lands. Man-made islands are a valuable alternative to support a sustainable urban expansion with new modes of living, working, and entertaining. Islands are paradigms of the living condition and as such can exacerbate the logic and characteristics of existing modes of production and consumption of urban spaces. Artificial islands are territorial fragments, yet they are constructed and destructed in a cycle that concentrates many of the forces characterizing human civilization. This cycle of production and destruction is a way to escape the present and to project the future.
Myths, legends, stories, histories – as many narratives as possible are needed to define the contours of a new territory. In the case of our project Hong Kong...
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