Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mongkok makeover will kill street life as we know it

I am horrified by the URA’s project to turn five streets in Mongkok into a 'theme park' for tourists (ref.SCMP. 1-09-09)

Does the Urban Renewal Authority truly know what tourists want to see? I can only speak for my visitors from Europe, and I would say that what draws them to Mongkok is the chance to see local people's way of life under conditions of extreme density: the crowds, sounds, smells and sights that are fast disappearing from other parts of Hong Kong.
What they are not interested in is a sterile and over-regulated environment, paved with blue tiles and dotted with giant goldfish and seashells.
They certainly welcome the idea of walking in a pedestrian friendly zone and get some respite from traffic fumes, but feel that repaving the streets with glossy tiles would make them less authentic.

Giant themed sculptures would only accelerate the lamentable disneyfication of public space. Those who like Disney aesthetics are already catered for, the rest of us have the right to enjoy streets that are not over-themed, over-designed and banalised.

Childish and tacky sculptures may be fit for shopping malls but shouldn’t blight our public space.

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