Subin Park

University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, China

The fate of architecture in post industrial cities like Hong Kong often includes rapid erasure and reconstruction — an efficient, often linear process that tends to neglect the potential value and architectural information of what existed before. Every building is vulnerable to weathering through time, but current architectural practices emphasise resistance from natural processes of decay and deterioration over time. This project, titled Urban Archive, is situated within the reality of change. It applies weathering as a tool for design to break away from conventional modes of architectural design, construction, and representation. Ultimately, the project itself results from a process of design through making and unmaking, transforming the building into a device and index for documenting spatial and material transformation.

More than simply a meditation on the inevitability of decay, Urban Archive reconsiders how a specific method of construction (found object + cast + formwork) can be an alternative to contemporary trends of commemoration and commercialisation in architectural preservation. The texture of the old structure, imprinted on the new concrete cast, offers an opportunity for users to read it as material and spatial information about the past, from its tectonic relationships to its material specificities to the particulars of place.

As the project progresses, the red fragments representing the existing gradually fade away, replaced by the concrete and wooden frame structure, which itself composes the new red fragments over time. The design process does not end with the four time frames included, but projects forward, as an on-going and continuous process of deriving the new from the old. The Urban Archive highlights the design process as possessive of both a history, present, and future, while the architect’s method of representation transforms architecture into a changeable object that evolves from and with the city.