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Inter cities/Intra cities, La Biennale di Venezia, Italy

Tuesday 07 Aug 2012

Ghostwriting the future

The Oval Partnership 
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Oval Partnership has been appointed curator of the Hong Kong exhibition at the Venice Biennale 

The Hong Kong Institute of Architects and Hong Kong Arts Development Council will participate in the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia with an exhibition focusing on the vital urban, architectural and cultural regeneration of Kowloon East, Hong Kong SAR. The exhibition is titled "Inter Cities / Intra Cities: Ghostwriting the Future".

The Hong Kong based architectural practice, Oval Partnership, winner of the WAN Hotel of the Year Award 2012, has been appointed as curator of the Hong Kong exhibition by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects following a public call for proposals. Oval has developed the concept for the exhibition and selected content from 13 contributing exhibitors, all working on live projects in Kowloon East, in response to David Chipperfield's overall theme for the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, "Common Ground".

The exhibition takes the 320 hectare Kowloon East regeneration area as its subject; one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Asia, and a district based around the ghost of a former airport. It will interrogate how the Development Bureau's official future plans, as well as unofficial projects, native and planned culture of the Kowloon East district will manifest and co-exist in one of the most prominent regeneration projects in the world.

In Hong Kong the double meaning of Common Ground has added poignancy. The phrase ‘one country, two systems' is a maxim constantly under interrogation. To what extent does Hong Kong retain a different system to the Mainland, and how does this different system envisage the involvement of its citizens in shaping their future? How can Hong Kong seize this opportunity, the last and largest regeneration in the city's history, to create a district that encourages growth and a better quality of life, opportunity for large corporations, small businesses and the native population alike, as well as achieve a successful balance between top down governance and grass roots initiatives? Can Hong Kong find new ways simultaneously to maintain the commercial momentum that has made it the success it is today, whilst engaging its citizenry more fully and enabling diverse, culturally-rich, and more sustainable ways of living in years to come?

As curator, Oval Partnership will act as ghostwriters, inviting the contributors to speculate on past, present and future inhabitation as a way of re-framing existing conditions, native culture and new activity. These projects will be interpreted to reveal the hidden histories and emerging futures in one of the most extensive urban regeneration projects in the world.

The exhibition weaves a series of interlinked narratives to reveal the fragile ecologies of an emerging new urban culture, co-existing within the official master plan. It will juxtapose diverse projects from an array of contributors; from Foster and Partners' new cruise liner terminal now under construction on the old Kai Tak runway, to small urban agriculture projects on factory roofs, sensitive low-cost housing projects and a nightclub in an abandoned warehouse.

Christopher Law, Founding Director of Oval Partnership, states "Amidst a global financial crisis, Hong Kong has emerged to deliver a regeneration project which will take sustainable urbanism to a new level. This is a reinvention of a large part of the city and we believe it is a fascinating place to postulate and observe how the new architectural culture of a consumerist, investment intensive, super-connected, high density but socio-politically only half-awakened city, might evolve. We anticipate that our objectives with the exhibition will promote the continuing dynamic growth of Hong Kong as a world-class city."

The opening ceremony of "Inter Cities / Intra Cities: Ghostwriting the Future" will be held on Monday, August 27, 2012. The exhibition will open from August 29 to November 25, 2012 at the Arsenale, Campo della Tana, Castello 2126, in Venice, Italy.

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