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A Discourse on Architecture and Identity. Procuring Collective Memory: An Institute for The Transient

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Ching Kan Chan
Chinese University of Hong Kong | China
As a local citizen of Hong Kong born in 1980s, it is difficult to comprehend who exactly we are or what represented us: traces in the built environment hardly speak to us other than a coastal image of glittering office towers celebrating the agenda of capitalism. Cultural heritage and museums exhibiting the past hardly conveys a sense of belonging to our present community. The thesis is an attempt to understand why and how such happens.

By understanding how identity is manifested in the built environment, the thesis questions how local identity can be sustained with social progress by following the course of history. It is a journey of continuous discovery and appropriation of history in order to fabricate a cultural logic that is local specific.

It consists of three episodes:
I. a research on architecture and identity in relation to capitalistic society;
II. a retroactive manifestation of an unstated project spanning over 200 years that shapes the uniqueness of Wanchai as known today; and
III. a design project that dwells on the research and logic as a projection of history.

Episode I aims to formulate a holistic understanding of how identity is related to the built environment and identify challenges and difficulties of how ‘identities’, whether as given by history or manifesting local livelihood, are conveyed and translated into the built environment in relation to present socio-economical condition.

Episode II is an allegorical construct to reveal the logic underlying the development of Wanchai since the city was found in 1845. The construct, the depository of the Otherness, is a recollection of historical events and evidences to support the plot of the unstated project: a culture of the transient; an identity manifesting in the built environment that contributed by local public without direct governance, regulation and imposition, which celebrates the local livelihood and progresses with time.

Episode III is an attempt to project the logic in order to sustain local identity with social progress; a procurement of local identity before it falls into oblivion.

Ching Kan Chan

Marisa Yu
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