an urban salon recalls the collective memories of the northern tip

‘siu kai fong’ is a dynamic collective space

‘siu kai fong’ is a dynamic installation which aimed to improve the quality of life in North Point, an area populated by various neighborhoods. in response to Hong Kong the arts center’s open invitation for community-driven public art, studio O&O and REHyphenation proposed an inspiring space as a reflection of the neighborhood’s daily use of the pavement.

in this way, the design team sought to empower the community to envision better future use of public spaces, while also using some of the locals’ beloved furnishings, to bring back memories of the past. the resulting project comes across as a living compilation resembling an outdoor urban living room complemented by painted floor graphics.
photography by siu kai fong

neighborhood stories meet reused furniture

after repeated visits, the team observed that the public jetty was frequented by people participating in different activities at all hours of the day. people fished, boarded sampans, exercised, walked on dates, or, especially in the case of older people in the area, used the causeway to rest and relax. Based on community discussions, they noticed that pavement users bring household furniture to use and share it with others. unlike street furniture provided by the state, these pieces are not fixed, so they can be transferred to where they are needed. and that was exactly the basis of the project. “We wanted siu kai fong to reflect the neighborhood’s practice of reusing old furniture, but include rooms that have stories to tell.”

an urban living room with beloved furniture recalls collective memories
rocking chair donated by a local resident and its replica

a beautiful story behind each piece

the team received 47 chairs and three tables through donations from local households, schools and businesses. some of them have been kept as they are, while others have undergone modifications. Meanwhile, some pieces were made with tales from voice actors who provided live recordings via scanning QR codes.

one chair originally came from a colonial-era government office. he ended up in a student’s house and she grew up with the chair; even when she moved, she could not part with this part of her education. two more chairs were from stores as well as the Chun Yeung Street Market. the rocking chair was the favorite place to sit for a North Point grandmother. a small green plywood chair came from a nursery of a women’s wellness club (Eastern District). another chair was previously used in the old Java Road Public School and ended up in a family-operated store in Java Road Market and a food court.

a few of the school chairs were grouped together and turned into rocking chairs which all share a base. irreparable items were wrapped in clear acrylic to allow use alongside contemplation. the light floor is reminiscent of the colorful heritage tiles and patterns commonly found in apartment buildings.

an urban living room with beloved furniture recalls collective memories
school chairs donated by secondary, primary and nursery schools, recycled into rocking chairs

“Siu kai fong made us aware of the closeness of the communities of Hong Kong and the invisible links that unite us all”, li added. “Eventually, the government will build a cycling promenade here and this collective space will have disappeared”, noted fok. ‘siu kai fong acts as a recording of a time and place at the northern tip’, said chan. “Since its unveiling, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how people have unexpectedly used the chairs. it is not a finished installation. we noticed that many were bringing new furniture to share. ‘siu kai fong’ took a life of its own. ‘

After the exhibition ends, the components of “siu kai fong” will endure through charity sales and educational events to achieve a closed loop cycle that continues to benefit communities in hong kong. With the concerted efforts with collaborators, the hong kong arts center designs and engages the community with a series of participatory programmers and creative art structures to connect the new and old neighborhoods of the neighborhood, strengthening the capacities of the public space , celebrating the uniqueness of northern tip and thus cultivating a sense of belonging and building cultural citizenship through the imaginaries of urban spaces.

Dora W. Clawson