A Monochromatic Trip Between Reality and Fantasy
Vincent Le Pendeven
Hong Kong, historical leader in Asia, faces a constant opening of its doors to China mainland, since decades.
Seen by many as an asylum, Hong Kong has always been an extremely densified place, and is now expressing difficulties to find free space. After building high, Hong Kong is building deep: the islan food industry is located 150 metres below the historical Central Market. Receiving the products by multiple rail lines from China, the food is redistributed horizontally (in the island), and vertically directly to the underground market. The streets are going from the hills to the depths of Hong Kong city, bringing with them the crazed activity. Along the market ramp, the city grows organically: we build secure paths to manage chines and tourist flows (considered as merchandise), capsule accommodations for an efficient space use, and some more unofficial accommodations are created in the scaffoldings themselves. A narrow place is finally reserved, to remember what the extreme urbanity destroyed: nature. Rediscovered as a simple leisure artificially produced nature is, in 2046, the best way for the people to breathe and survive to this frenetic life. Hong Kong as a Disneyland, faces his success the day its doors definitely open to China. Over-densified, this anti-hill system pack activities wherever there is available space. As a symbol of the reminiscent greatness and independence of Hong Kong, the heritage of Bauhaus style Central Market, is a symbolic entrance for the city to its underground.
Who influences you graphically?
I think that I am first of all inspired by drawings that tell us a great story. Boullée’s Cénotaphe, Hokusai’s fisherman, the 1910 Parisian metropolitan section or the Haussmann building section in 1845 are perfect examples of influences for this work. One of the main reference remains definitely Hiroaki Kani’s section of the Hong Kong Kowloon Walled City. I am also very inspired by drawings such as those of Atelier Bow Wow, Yukiko Suto or Anja Kempa. I particularly like the idea that despite of all the graphic tools we have, a simple dark line on a white background, can still tell a great story.
What defined the method of representation of the project?
The idea was to express the effects of such a crazed city on our five senses. I quickly realised that it was impossible to display smells, touch, noise or the atmosphere of a street, in a simple image. I had many references in my head: feelings I expressed, photos I took, phenomenons I observed…but also concrete art works such as like Wong Kar Wai films or Fan Ho Photographies, that helped me a lot.The method I decided to use was therefore to keep a simple, monochromatic style, and to tell many stories in each of my images. I therefore inserted all these references I had, in my drawings (images, slogans, symbols, drawings of real photos such as the people living in cages…). I liked the idea to blur the limit between reality and fantasy. It was a good way to show how mad is the real Hong Kong of nowadays !
I finally told my story by simply mixing up my inventions with real phenomenons, under this monochromatic code.
What is your take on colour? What dictated the use of blue lines?
There is no specific reason for the use of blue, I wanted a deep color, but to avoid the classic black-and-white architectural language style. The aim was to tell the project as a story, a trip in the city more than the classic visit of a building.
What programs did you use?
Archicad, Sketchup (with its great plug-ins !) a lot of Illustrator and of course Photoshop.
What was your work process in terms of concept development and production of images?
This work is the result of a 6 months experience of living and exploring Hong Kong, it was therefore a long process, to order all the ideas I had about my experience. A big analysis was at first done during the writing of a thesis phase. Concepts were in my mind since a long time, and just needed to be drawn. A city such as Hong Kong stimulates automatically the imagination, and in this case, you don’t really need help to find ideas ! The story was much more stressful when came the time to produce the images. Each drawings had to evoque the density of the futuristic Hong Kong. It was also thought to be printed in very big panels, almost to vacuum the observer into a new world. It was therefore, never really done, and I still consider it as the most unfinished work I did. Frenetic as the city itself, the story of future Hong Kong continues to run out in my head and maybe one day, it will call me to take on my blue again !
Vincent freshly graduated from Strasbourg’s Ecole Nationale Superieur d’Architecture with honours, and is currently working as an architect in Munich, Germany. The thesis was written after his six months’ experience in Hong Kong and exists as a summary of his experience and impressions of the city. Making these the basis for the project he decided to centre his diploma argument around the future of Hong Kong and the evolution of the phenomena observed.