Exhibition

We Own The City Book Launch Hong Kong During ‘Occupy Central’

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Overview
We Own The City launched in Hong Kong 10 October 2014, held at University of Hong Kong Swindon Bookstore. Find out more, see photos and watch short movies here.

Type of activity
Exhibition
Date of the activity


Location of the activity
University of Hong Kong's Swindon Bookstore
Background
For the past two months we saw the launch of We Own The City, which brought CITIES’ team around the world to Italy, New York, Taiwan, and back to Hong Kong, the city of the book’s inception, and witnessed the burgeoning of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Movement’, a bottom-up, self-organized political protest where people took to the streets.

Hongkongers, in an effort to fight for true democracy and prompted by police brutality, have occupied the road around the government headquarters since late-September. The movement has subsequently grown into a self-initiated community that features crowdsourced public art, bike-powered study hall, and even an urban farm, all largely motivated by the citizen’s desire to reclaim ownership of the city.

Given the context, the book launch in Hong Kong was timely. It took place the eve of 10 October, 2014 at the University of Hong Kong’s Swindon Bookstore, and drew a crowd of 80 people consisting of academics, government officials, practitioners, and NGO representatives, despite road closures and traffic congestion arising from street protests.

Distinguished guests were also in attendance, and who offered kind words of encouragement. “The book advocates the adoption of inclusive urban planning development plans,” said Dr. Roger C.K. Chan (Associate Dean of Research from The University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Architecture) in his opening remarks, and it calls for “the voices of stakeholders of all levels to be heard.”

We Own The City is edited by Francesca Miazzo and Tris Kee, who are based in Amsterdam and Hong Kong respectively, but “[t]he showcases are not confined to Hong Kong and the Netherlands; it also features best practices from other global cities,” Ms. Caitlin Lam reminds us, attending on behalf of the Netherlands Consul-General, who offered generous support for the event.

Besides screening our book launch video (first URL link below), the evening also featured questions from the audience inquiring about the ‘Umbrella Movement’ (otherwise known as ‘Occupy Central’) and what implications it would offer to the idea and question of city ownership and bottom-up initiatives. Our book editors moderated the ensuing discussion, which was both timely and thought-provoking for all those in attendance.

We are excited to have launched this book with our amazing collaborators, and we hope to inspire and enable a rise in community-driven practice in Hong Kong and around the world.

There are two videos from the We Own The City tour in Asia – links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lAZOJFCehk

https://vimeo.com/111859991

Text: Mehdi Comeau

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