Hong Kong's Pedestrian Networks Redefine Civic Space

Nate Berg looks at how Hong Kong's unique pedestrian infrastructure of elevated walkways and underground tunnels has affected the city's use of public and private spaces, and shifted urban behaviors.
August 27, 2012, 5am PDT | Emily Williams
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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."

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Published on Monday, August 20, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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