As the home to an interconnected series of elevated and underground passages that give pedestrians seemingly unlimited right-of-way without ever setting foot on actual ground, Hong Kong has generated a unique type of urban public space.
The result is a highly effective breed of "aformal urbanism," says Jonathan D. Solomon, associate dean at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University and co-author of the new book Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook. "You're constantly shifting from underground to above ground, from interior to exterior, from air-conditioned to non-air-conditioned, from public to private, and the dimensions are constantly going from large spaces to tighter spaces."
"Solomon says these walkways are incredibly vibrant parts of town, and represent a new method of providing usable space within a city," notes Berg. "The maps in Cities Without Ground seek to show that this system of walkways – messy and aformal and almost completely separate from the actual ground of the city – is just as important to Hong Kong as the sidewalks and public spaces of any other city."