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Market, Garden, Housing: Yaumatei Fruit Market Redevelopment

By : Lam Kong

The Yaumatei District Fruit Market is one of the unique areas in Hong Kong with strong social, historical and cultural character. Within the dense mass of tightly packed buildings, a few brick and tile structures built seventy years ago by the first generation of Market vendors can still be found. The market retains an authentic historical and nostalgic atmosphere. Due to the inherent nature of the low-rise structures, the market naturally develops into an open space. Unlike a previous Government proposal for this site, this design aims at recapturing the essence of social life in the district. Here, housing, market and gardens not only preserve the historical market structure but also potentially sustain the life of the new development.
Here, permanent and temporary structures form a mixed mass of buildings. While some historical structures are identified and preserved, temporary structures are taken down to allow the reordering of market spaces. The street is redeveloped and re-organized with introduction of various commercial and market activities, revitalizing the local streetscape. It creates a vehicle-free zone where people can walk about and social interaction occurs.
Proposed gardens can be inserted into the new open spaces beside the central spine. Garden spaces of different character are introduced for various purposes to create a rich sequence of experiences. They collectively act as a buffer to soften the contrasting activities between public market and private residential areas, yet they still engage in dialogue.
Housing units are built above the market. Community decks connect the housing units, community spaces and gardens. These act as extensions of limited internal housing space. They are spaces for re-constructing a sense of community and social life. Intimate spaces and complex inter-relationships between them are the happy result.
(Students: Lam Kong, Wong Yan Pan, Yau Ho, Charles, and Wong Zung Ming)

Tutor’s Comments
The project may appear naïve but is actually sensible. It criticizes conservation schemes generated by the tourism industry currently prevailing in many Asian cities. In the teaching process, the students were required to identify and address a number of what might be called “issues”, then invent distinct responses to them in architectural ways. A primary goal was to introduce low-cost structural, material and constructional strategies. These will hopefully convince low-income people to remain in, or even return to, traditional urban quarters. Finally, a multi-level open-deck system was introduced.
This is a self-help scheme for a poor urban community. Assisted by a set of basic instruments, ramps, staircases, and external hoists alike, residents are expected to build residential units by themselves upon these decks. The project seeks a balance between conservation and urban renewal, between tourism and local community interests, between acceptability and originality, and between sadness and hope.

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