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Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice

Part of the Venice Biennale 2016, this exhibition intends to demonstrate Hong Kong’s architectural talents to the world by highlighting works driven by identity and social empowerment. Marta Catalán Erato reports.

Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice


BY Janice Seow

May 5th, 2016


Pictured above: Stanley Siu’s First Confession, part of Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice

Appointed Curator of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale Venezia (Venice Biennale), Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena is changing the rules of the game. Having experienced successes in his social engagement projects, he aims to raise awareness of those whose voices hadn’t been heard – and, with this in mind, he proposed the Biennale be themed Reporting from the Front. The theme is a challenge to architects around the world to improve on global living conditions.

In Hong Kong, a city driven by capitalist forces for decades, the urge to look at minorities seems crucial. So the curatorial team for The Hong Kong Institute of Architects Biennale Foundation, working with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, decided to address this issue by exhibiting works by a team of architects who are in their 30s and working on projects that relate to issues of local identity and social empowerment. The resulting exhibition will be titled Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice.

Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice
Memory Tanks by Aden Chan

“It is time for a change,” says Vincent Ng, President of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, of this decision. “In Hong Kong, there are lots of young architects who have the vision, energy, and creativity, but are almost suffocated by the current regulations. The young generation is not going after profit making or densification; rather, they care about local culture. We need to give them more chances and hear their voices.”

“I wanted to reflect on the problem of Hong Kong using the idea of the frontier,” says Stanley Siu, Chief Curator, explaining the ideas behind the Hong Kong theme, Stratagems in Architecture. “We are young and we don’t want to follow the existing rules. But when the old and the new overlap, the frontier happens. Instead of economically oriented strategies, we focus on the local and on sustainability. These are some of the small frontiers that I have identified.”

Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice
Tony Ip for Stratagems in Architecture

For Siu, it’s also important to contribute to changing the way Hong Kong architecture is perceived by people outside Hong Kong. “Previously we always showed big projects by overseas architects, such as the M+ museum, or the West Kowloon project, but they were never done by local architects,” he says. “The whole architecture scene is dominated by big companies. This time, I wanted to flip this idea around, and show to the world an interesting part of Hong Kong that they have never seen before.”

It is hoped that the Venice Biennale projects, including the conservation of the Blue House cluster or a review of the subdivided units, contribute to changing Hong Kong’s approach to architecture, thus promoting alternative paths for generations to come.

Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice
Part of Angus Ngai’s exhibit for Stratagems in Architecture

The 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale Venezia (Venice Biennale) will be open to the public from 28 May 2016. Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice is sponsored by Create Hong Kong, a Hong Kong government body.

Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice
2016.venicebiennale.hk

La Biennale di Venezia
labiennale.org