The Earth is this anthropized planet we share and whose future livability we must ensure. The rise of so-called natural disasters, hurricanes, cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes, remind us of the vulnerability of inhabited spaces, and of the interdependence of human and non-human beings living there.Therefore planetary urbanization choices are paramout. Decisions to build in the most fragile areas – behind dikes, below sea level, on geological faults – which are most often destroyed, remind us of the limits of the act of building. And these decisions are those that will or will not impact our relationships with the built environment.In this regard, we note today the recurrent choice to focus on improving techniques and engineering to protect ourselves from this planet, rather than to evolve towards strategies for a dwelling that has been conceived as fragile.
Hong Kong tells us one of those stories of conquest. The British colonists who approached the shores of this coast described a bare rock with steep slopes. This mythical story is well known, it is the story of the one who arrives and “discovers” a land without history, that “gives itself” to colonization. The fact remains that British colonization is sporadic, there are only a few buildings on the hills and along the shores. An image that is totally obsolete today for those who know Hong Kong, like many, from its stereotypical image of gigantic towers in front of steep mountains, covered with dense forests.
Hong Kong intrigues architects and urban planners with the huge contradictions that shape the experience of this city. The incessant artificial embankments are carried out at the same time as the sanctuary of hectares of nature, in the same remoteness of this environment. The obligation to build high, due to constraints of available surface and in order to appear as a world-class metropolis, creates a singular urban experience, exotic for the Western pedestrian: that of the vertical street.
The ultra-density of the city is denounced as an example of unsustainable development yet is also valued as a laboratory of the extreme compactness of the living space. But the recent movements of demand from civil society for participation in the definition of major projects are the main driving force for change in the future of the city.
Stickiness, groaning branches, hair pulled by leaves, the intense smell of flowers at the street corner, cracking concrete, the tapping of a branch pushed by the wind on a window: our sensitive life is constantly interacting with plant and animal life. Unless it is no more than a past interaction, because we now more often evoke the anesthetized fate of our urban life, increasingly artificialized, air-conditioned. Wouldn’t it be in these daily exchanges that links between societies and nature could already evolve, no longer by fighting for space but in the idea of cohabitation ?
He apprehends self-taught photography and improves through workshops in Paris and Arles. He has been developing his own independent photographer since 2006, divided between an artistic practice that questions the links between landscape and interventions
human resources and a command work with the actors of architecture and urbanism.
Lives and works in Nantes (France).
© text by Anne Bossé (architect, doctor of geography, researcher of CRENAU) / pictures by Gaëtan Chevrier