2018 Travel Scholarship: Hong Kong

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I am a project designer with Caron Architecture and was awarded the 2018 travel scholarship.

Seattle is undergoing unprecedented growth. It is estimated that over 20,000 people are moving each year and we as designers are doing our best to accommodate for their stay with densification and an emphasis on building vertically. While here this change is new, it is not new to other cities both domestic and abroad. A well-known leader in dealing with densification is the city of Hong Kong. In the last 50 years, Hong Kong has seen an influx in people unlike any other with its population doubling from three and a half million to over seven million. Due to the city’s mountainous geography and limited space for developable land, it has forced developers to build denser than ever before and is now one of the most densely populated cities in the world with over 17,000 people per square mile. The similarities between Hong Kong and Seattle might begin to be apparent. Both are going through a housing boom on limited land and people are needing to adapt.

During my tour, I intend to study Hong Kong’s building crisis and how developers have had to meet the ever-increasing housing demands of an island population. Both Hong Kong Island and its sister city of Kowloon are both incredibly built-up cities with hundreds of residential towers soaring over 400 feet. For such a young city, their swift approach to efficiency and proactive development is something that I would like to see in Seattle and other American cities. As real estate becomes more expensive here, developers are looking to us to create not only beautiful and functional buildings, but efficient ones. I think that Hong Kong has something to teach us about our city’s future.

I plan on documenting my travels through photographs and through diagrammatic story-telling. The goal for myself and for my colleagues upon return is to deconstruct the various levels of development, transportation, and commerce that coexist in Hong Kong’s urban fabric. My intention is to illustrate how each of these critical functions relate to Seattle and ultimately create a city that is greater than the sum of its parts. With proper insight and a better understanding of Seattle’s growth, we can design for a better tomorrow.