Sep 7, 2017
Architecture, Arts Council

This Arts Council-funded Project is entitled Kinesthetic Montage: An Immersive Exploration of Hong Kong’s Walkscapes and was proposed by UVA’s School of Architecture.

This project will engage students in a cinematic experience of the city of Hong Kong through the walking body, to capture this experience, to deduct and experiment with implied design principles, and to share the outcomes with a larger audience through exhibition.

In Hong Kong, home to a thriving and unique film culture, there is a close relationship between the urban space and filmmaking. Its film industry is the third largest producer of movies worldwide, and the films are filmed, staged, and screened in Hong Kong. The physical reality of the city itself, as a built fabric under continuous transformation, as an experience of incessant movement within its highly developed transport system, and as a model of three-dimensional density perceived as changing collage of fragments of buildings shifting against each other, seems to escape traditional methods of spatial analysis.

The dynamic nature of Hong Kong, suggests that the city itself is cinematic, and may be more effectively captured through filmic terminologies such as sequence, framing, montage, parallax, etc. This notion is further intensified by the fact that Hong Kong is a predominantly pedestrian city. 93% of the traveling within Hong Kong is carried out through public transport or pedestrian movement. The spatial compression together with the density of pedestrian movement creates the need for efficient structures for human flows, which offer clear orientation and accelerated transport of walking citizens.

The total integration of transport terminals with the built environment, the use of mechanically enabled pedestrian movement systems, and the interconnecting elements such as lobbies, elevated walkways and corridors, not only reinvents pedestrian movement in urban space but also determines the morphological, functional, visual, and social dimensions of its organization, which fundamentally diverges from traditional models of the city. Notions like streetscape, facade, public space, access; neighborhood, etc. experience a radical redefinition or even become redundant.

The urban space as experienced on foot is a complex network of walking paths, interior and exterior, that emerge in the fascinating intersection between pedestrian infrastructure, public transport systems, and architecture. Pedestrian movement through these spaces, as a varied combination of proper and structured movement, produces an inherently cinematic experience as well. The density of spatial variation, the density of functions, and the density of cultural heritage that are produced by this environment further enhance the kinesthetic experience and the impression of spatial framing, sequencing and montage.

Against this background Hong Kong provides a prototype of an aesthetic experience that suggests a model for a contemporary, sustainable, and sensorially rich pedestrian city. This aesthetic experience is what this project intends to capture through audio-visual and graphical documentation, creative analysis, and experimentation through architectural design. This unique relationship between the film culture, the pedestrian infrastructure, and the moving body, can only be experienced by students on foot, on site in Hong Kong.

Hence the process of “immersion” in the form of a one-week trip to Hong Kong to pursue field work will form an indispensable component of the project. The kinesthetic and sensory experience of the actual physical spaces cannot be replaced through any means of representation and is fundamental to the intuitive and deep understanding of the relationship between these spaces and the human body. The conscious practice of walking will underlie all field investigations while in Hong Kong.

The working process during the fall semester will be structured in four phases – approach, immersion, experimentation and consolidation, each of which will result in distinct creative outputs that will ultimately serve to convey the experience, process, and findings to a larger audience within the School of Architecture and beyond. The work will culminate in an exhibition that conveys the characteristics and range of spatial experiences of pedestrian movement in Hong Kong through moving images and exploratory drawings, as well as design propositions in the form of physical models and architectural drawings.

Check back for more information on this Arts Council-funded project’s unfolding timeline.

The Arts Council provides advocacy, advice, and support in the Arts at the University of Virginia. It strives to develop and strengthen the bonds of interest and participation among the Arts Departments, their associated programs,  and their alumni and friends; to advocate on their behalf; to advise and assist with communications; and to help raise funds in support of academic programs, facilities, and special events. Among its multitude of arts advocacy efforts, the Council awards annual Arts Council Grants. These grants have, and continue to play an instrumental role in a number of  residencies, workshops, project and research-based endeavors proposed across Arts Grounds annually. This series of articles will highlight each funded project and serve to inform the UVA community of their unique timelines, progress and outcome reports.

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