Sunday, November 4, 2007

The evil spell of Suzie Wong

Once in a while at a dinner party, you would be stucked with an unknown encounter who happened to be an architectural designer. You asked about his views on local architecture (mainly for a start of conversations), and this often ended up being a monologue on feng shui and bamboo scaffolding. For the rest of the evening you would be hearing about how the locals grasped every opportunity to represent feng shui/bamboo scaffolding in their architectural thinking, from any international exhibits to local lectures, these were the “must do” theme to be recycled for decades. You might have wondered if there was life (or architecture in general) beyond feng shui/bamboo scaffolding or you being in a twilight zone listening to a primordial being babbling.

Things will evolve despite being mediocre. In recent years, the primordial beings were told that the most fashionable and politically correct term is “sustainability/preservation”. Since these are the new magic words to all things, the primordial beings are to find correspondence with their existing theme (i.e. feng shui/bamboo scaffolding) so as to continue their mediocracy. Therefore, you see bamboo decorations everywhere claiming to be sustainable in whatever aspect, and any types of additions to the historic context become justifiable instantaneously when under the name “preservation”.

In case Mr. Herzog & De Meuron are truly concern with the idea of “preservation” rather than “stereotyping”, good slave suggests they firstly to research more on the banality of these terms within the city context before inserting the gigantic bamboo-like scaffolding above the historic site (i.e. Central Police Station Compound) and claiming to conserve and revitalize (details here). In good slave opinion, building a bamboo-like scaffolding building at this day of age is no better than making a Suzie Wong movie back in the previous century.

- Shall structures that imitate bamboo-like scaffolding be inherent properties of “nature, plants, transparency, the play of life and shadow” (as per Mr. Herzog & De Meuron claims)?
- By inserting “green areas, observation deck, public life accessible in the vertical dimension” that result a gigantic structure, shall such structure instantaneously be congruent to the principle of conversation?
- How does a local motif/icon (bamboo scaffolding/sampan/dim sum/triads society/Suzie Wong...etc) be of any significant that requires to be represented in a conservation project?

P.S. Previously in the media, many local architects had openly criticized the Sampan scheme for Hong Kong headquarter saying how it did not reflect Hong Kong as a metropolitan city and Casino façade alike… good slave wonder where are those brave critics now?

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