Autumn Writings

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Autumn finally arrived in Hong Kong as well. The cool, fresh air… what a relief to feel a breeze again when you step outside! I love this season in the city, you’re still able to wear your summer clothes with an extra sweater… great months for hiking and… writing!

I finished quite a few articles this month about Occupy Central (unfortunately only in Dutch) for Nederlands Dagblad and China2025 and I did a set of short interviews with protesters for One World. I also finished a piece about how Shakespeare is being used in diplomacy with China (you can find one of the versions here).

At the moment I’m working on a long-read about the influence of pop-culture/fiction and fandom in recent revolutions/demonstrations in Asia. Keep you posted:)

Summer Projects #6: MONU Article / Inforgrahpics

2014 0815 Indoor space

I wrote about the Boring City Project before, remember? It’s a research project on Hong Kong’s housing estates that I’m doing with Inge Goudsmit since we’re both interested in topics at the intersection of architecture and psychogeography.

This summer we heard that our proposal for a big article in MONU (an international architectural magazine) was accepted. So we re-worked our data into an article about the relationship between housing estates and indoor urbanism (the overall-theme for the october-issue).

Hong Kong is a dual city; a metropolis where numerous parallel indoor worlds co-exist alongside the traditional, intense and vibrant city. It was fascinating to dive into the history of why/where this urban fabric originated and how it influences Hong Kong’s citizens.

This is one of the infographics that we included in our set of images.

Housing Hong Kong Infographic

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This is pretty much the housing skyline of Hong Kong. A shocking 62% of all Hongkongers lives in a public or private housing estate.

I promised regular updates on the boring city our housing estate research; we’re making progress! One of our articles got accepted as part of the Open Society project of ArchiNed and the Dutch Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice. It is going to be published early July. To be continued….

Funny… I found out that my research partner Inge Goudsmit is not only a very talented architect but also a real data-cruncher😉 we made some nice infographics with all the numbers that were generated. I did this housing skyline yesterday. Like:)?

The Boring City

housing estates

Yesterday I had a wonderful day working on the Housing Estate research project I’m doing with Inge Goudsmit, a very talented architect (OMA Hong Kong). Our key-question: how does the homogeneous typology of housing estates in Hong Kong influence their demography. Are estates and the so called ‘new towns’ simply repetitions of functional containers, filled with one-of-a-kind residents or is there more to it.  What will an area lose in the process of reaching hyper-efficiency? And is there a connection between living in a ‘boring city’ and our psychological state of mind? Why are there for example a lot more suicides in one estate compared to another?

I find it fascinating to gain data on this intersection of architecture and psychogeography. And of course, to find out more about the history of housing estates and (the very well-organised) social housing schemes in Hong Kong. Keep you posted on the results:).

Targeting Breast cancer with Design

2013 1021 bookcover

It was such an honor to make this cover for researcher Janneke Jaspers. She spent 6 years in the lab of NKI (Netherlands Cancer Institute) to find out more on anti-drug resistance in mouse models of breast-cancer. The illustration on the cover is a dart/target board and a maze at the same time.

According to Janneke it was sometimes a real struggle and (re)search for useful data/output, I tried to visualize that in the cover. With the pinkish skin-tissue of the background the illustration also resembles a woman’s breast (in an abstract way of course).

I wish Janneke a lot of inspiration and perseverance in her future career in researching breast-cancer. A lot of woman are extremely thankful for what you’re doing… I’m one of them;-)!

Chinese to me: mapping mutual incomprehension

Dit is chinees voor mij

Last week I was working on an article about how we all should use correct Chinese terms over misleading English translations of those terms. As I was researching, I stumbled upon this really interesting map here. Although the design is very basic it really got my attention.

I know from living in Hong Kong that most English speaking people say: ‘It sounds like Greek to me’ when they don’t understand something. When we Dutch speakers encounter a language problem, we say ‘it’s Chinese to me’. And apparently we’re not the only ones using Chinese as an equivalent of ‘this is something way beyond understanding’. Chinese is used most often in this international phrase phenomenon, Greek comes second and Spanish third. (Original source of the map can be found here)

Chinese are the only ones who don’t refer to another earthly language to indicate that they can’t comprehend something. They say ‘This must be heavenly script’.  I admire the self-confidence of Asians;-).