Assignment 4

956 words - 4 pages

The plans and narratives of the Kowloon Walled City have drastically changed through the years, as it has been an unrolled and unregulated enclave between the British and Chinese governments. It began as an officially planed Chinese military fort and afterwards witnessed three distinct stages of lawlessness, demolition and rebirth as an urban garden. It all officially began in the 16th century, when the Chinese built a defensive garrison town filled with soldiers, civil officers and their families (Carney, 2013). However, when Hong Kong was leased to the British in 1898, the Kowloon Walled City became a enclave in the colonized territory, where no laws of the official state applied and everything began expanding spontaneously. The first stage of the city’s unintentional self-organization began in the 1950’s. It is widely known as the time of three vices – gambling, prostitution and drug dealing. The official regulations of the British did work on Hong Kong and were reversely reflected in the Chinese enclave. As soon as something was forbidden in the city-state, people massively poured into the un-ruled territory and let the sins to flourish. This way the Kowloon Walled City became synonymous with violence, crime and disturbance. During this period, the city and people became one, the buildings were connected by piping systems and wires, the water poured through the holes and sunlight could barely reach the lower levels. Yet, in the early 1970’s the situation started changing and becoming more structured, official. The inhabitants became more mobile, lived in the darkness (as the rent was much lower than anywhere else), but worked and had fun outside in the light. The interaction strengthened. The second stage of the city started when Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese rule. The government swiftly decided to demolish the city of anarchy and the plans of reconstructing the territory into an urban Chinese-style garden became official. The demolition of the city, which took place in 1993-1994 could be seen as the interaction and strengthening not only of the Chinese government’s importance, but also as an end to the feuds between the states, everything came into the harmony. The last intentional stage of establishing the garden, brought more connectivity between the Hong Kong and Kowloon Walled City inhabitants, they became one single entity. To conclude, the city has gone through the stages of both official plans and self-regulations, therefore standing in the middle of government agendas and vernacular, people-implied ‘rules’ and ways of living.

The Kowloon Walled City has rarely been a part of modernization progress, as it has always been a vernacular representation of the Chinese history. The notions of reconstruction and modernity only became evident in the last years, when the plans of demolition and establishment of the Chinese garden came into...

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