HK5: Big Wave Bay & Shopping Mall


For my last day in Hong Kong I made a small hike to Big Wave Bay. For this I walked again through the cemetery, but instead of going right to Shek-O Beach I went left, a shorter route to the Bay. Such a nice bay it is! The village looks like it is totally isolated, but in fact it is also easily reachable by bus. Its peacefulness made for a big contrast when I went to dinner with a friend later on the day in a busy shopping centre! Suzhou is very relaxed compared to all this.
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HK3: Hong Kong Polytechnical University

Jockey Club Innovation Tower: the design building from Zaha Hadid. Unfortunately it  was so humid when I came outside that the lens immediately fogged!

Jockey Club Innovation Tower: the design building from Zaha Hadid. Unfortunately it was so humid when I came outside that the lens immediately fogged!

At the time of my visit The Hong Kong Polytechnical University held its annual design exhibition of work of graduating students. The work of the design department looked great. Something to aspire to for our own Industrial Design department at XJTLU.

I was also interested in the Communication Design Ba students. In their projects they had taken on some interesting themes, such as the neon light heritage of Hong Kong, Chinese calligraphy and health data. The design of the accompanying poster presentations though, looked like they could need a more firm typographical hand. They are only means of presentation for a project but still, you are a designer or not ; ). But I might be all to critical as Dutch guy with the large interest in typography in my country.

A dissappointment, if not maddening was the new design building, designed by the late Zaha Hadid. Officially called the ‘Jockey Club Innovation Tower’–after its major sponsor–its sculpted shape looks great on the outside, a beacon of progressiveness, a shiny example of image building for a university wanting to draw in students and researchers. But. I do pity the staff and the students who have to work inside of it. Its cramped and angled spaces made me feel slightly claustrophobic. White walls and ceilings can compensate for this only to a certain degree. Way finding was a nightmare for me. The general layout of a building should be clear.

This view is also inspired by my own involvement with the design process of our new combined Architecture and Industrial Design building at the South Campus of XJTLU. The overall architectural concept–roughly rounded and angled buildings, designed by the provincial planning office–came at the expense of a practical and efficient use of spaces for teaching, research, office space and workshops. Thankfully a joint redesign helped by the head of Architecture–on our own initiative–was able to compensate for that at least partially. Ideally teaching spaces should be designed so that they match the teaching and learning methods that you use. And that goes much further then just a division between lecture and seminars, especially in a discipline like design. Labs, teaching and office spaces should be spacy, flexible and should be designed in cooperation with staff to make them useable.

Suzhou IFS Center > 452 mtr

Suzhou IFS Center is making progress. When finished it will be the highest skyscraper in Suzhou and one of the highest in China with its 452 mtr height. It will be a fitting partner for the ‘Gate to the Orient’ on the other side of Jinji Lake with its 302 mtr height: yin and yang. Nevertheless I do wonder who is going to use all that office space…

Roaming Dianshan Lake

I found myself on a rather cloudy day at Dianshan Lake. Happily the flowering yellow rapeseed lightened the atmosphere. A new experience for me since in the Netherlands I associate rapeseed with industrialized agriculture.

Dianshan Lake lies between Suzhou & Shanghai. It is a popular destination for day trips: Jinxi, one of the better known water towns is situated right next to it. During the past years there have been many building activities around the lake. Gated communities targeted at the richer middle class, in search for a better quality of live outside the city. Housing here also provides an alternative for people who are not originally from Shanghai, and thus are not allowed to buy a house there. Continue reading

Houses for sale!

Real estate sellers a plenty around Dianshan Lake. Dozens of young suited up boys & girls wander on highways, crossings and exits,handing out flyers advertising apartments and houses. They present a danger to themselves and car drivers.

Imagine people in a suit with a waving sign, walking up to you in the Netherlands just as you exit highway with 80 km an hour! Somehow they remind of the zombies from The Walking Dead. Connection between consumer society and zombies anyone? There are many unoccupied new houses around the area. The property market is in stagnation. God forbid what happens to the Chinese economy when it collapses. Continue reading

New York: Being there

Central Park

Central Park

New York is a nice city, unless you experience it during one of the more severe frost periods of this century. Average day temperature was -6, at night it was -15 degrees Celsius. Earlier I had imagined leisurely walking from my hotel through Central Park to the archive I worked at each day. It now became an slippery and icy adventure! Continue reading