‘Urban Design’ for Jake’s Theme

Jake explains his challenge like this, “Urban design is the process of designing and shaping cities, towns and villages. Whereas architecture focuses on individual buildings, urban design address the larger scale of groups of buildings, of streets and public spaces, whole neighbourhoods and districts, and entire cities, to make urban areas functional, attractive, and sustainable.”

Here is my choice of pics for Jake’s challenge.

The Megacity of Hong Kong, whose name derives from ‘Hsaing Kang’, meaning fragrant harbour, rates as one of the most populous cities in the world.

Here is a view taken looking over Kowloon to Victoria Harbour. How it has changed since my mom lived there as a child in the 1930’s, when she used to be taken to school in a rickshaw.


The city itself is really like most of the world’s cities, except for the signs being all in Chinese.


It doesn’t look terrible busy in these photos, but to me it felt like wall to wall people, especially at night-time, when all the locals as well as the tourists seemed to be out on the streets. I believe some family apartments are so small, (only 40-50 sq metres), and have bunk beds overlapping with cooking areas and food storage. Is it surprising that people only go home to their ‘cubicle apartments to sleep, and that they conduct their social life outside ?


Here is one of the side streets of the city.


Although Hong Kong is one of the richest cities in the world, in the back streets, the signs of poverty were very evident. Almost a fifth of the population of this glittering city, are suffering extreme financial hardship.


To see more interpretations of Jake’s theme, just click here.

73 comments on “‘Urban Design’ for Jake’s Theme

  1. Wow, another sliver of your life – a chinese slice. How amazing to see all the places you or your family has lived. You are so cosmopolitan. πŸ™‚ Loved this! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much, Marsha. I wish I had photos of the area where my dad was brought up in Indonesia. Looked in the album, and there’s nothing. 😦

      • You have a fascinating life. Every tidbit of information you share makes me (and I’m sure your other followers, too) want to get to know you better. Thanks for sharing, Sylvia. πŸ™‚

  2. fascinating post on hong kong ad, i love your photos and story … my mother visited hk many times, but i have never been there πŸ™‚

  3. Great photos of this very congested city, Sylvia. School in a rickshaw – now that is a story. I would love to hear more about that. You always have fantastic images of places I’ll never get to visit. Thanks for the tour.

    • I really must try and jog my mom’s memory about her early life, and especially of her years lived in China. She’s only given me tiny snippets over the years, and now her memory is very bad. 😦

  4. We hope to explore this part of the world in the next few years. I don’t know how much time we will spend in such a crowded city. How long ago were you there Sylvia?

    • We were only in Hong Kong for three days, before doing a wonderful ten day tour of China, which covered Guilin, Xian and Beijing. You’ll really enjoy it. I’m sure it has probably changed quite a lot though since we were there in 1999.

  5. They say dense populations like that are more energy efficient, but I’m far too spoiled having some space all to myself. I suppose we adapt if we must, but it wouldn’t be easy.

    • Me too, Gunta. I was just wondering what the water pressure for the shower must be like, if one lives in a huge apartment block. πŸ˜•

  6. Great pics here! I think it’s so interesting about your mother living there as a child. Did she live there for long? Was she born there? (I’m nosy, I know) πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks, Dianne. My mom’s father was a Sergeant Major in the British Army, and was stationed in Hong Kong for a few years. She says that they had a wonderful life there, and her older brother who was also in the army, used to dive off the top of cranes, into the harbour. Unfortunately he was killed during the 2nd World War when he was captured by the Japanese, and the unmarked prisoner of war ship he was on, was torpedoed by the British. A great tragedy, as I was deprived of an uncle I would have been so proud of. 😦

      • Oh dear… this is truly an amazing story, have you ever thought of writing a book about it? I have a picture on my wall of my Great Uncle Robert who died in Changi POW camp and I totally treasure it xoxoxo

    • I have been trying to get my mom to share more memories with me, but at 88, her mind isn’t what it was, and she can’t remember much now. Methinks I must persevere. πŸ™‚

      • My grandmother-in-law was the same so I got a small tape player and in her more ‘lucid’ moments I would turn it on and talk to her. Yes – perseverance is the key. Best of luck because it would make a wonderful story πŸ˜‰

  7. There is a strong connection between Hong Kong and Vancouver. When we were there, a tour guide said that people from Hong Kong call Vancouver – are you ready for this – Honcouver!! πŸ˜†

    β€œCities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
    ― Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

    • I guess it’s because of the high proportion of Chinese/Asian people in the Lower Mainland. When my daughter and family lived there, we noticed this.
      That quote is very true, Rebecca.

  8. That harbour never fails to amaze me AD …All those buildings huddled and rising up round the water like concrete plants . Its also amazing what conditions and cramped quarters people get used to living in … but as has someone has already mentioned .. Such clean looking and litter- free streets !

    • Thanks, Poppy. I love your “concrete plants” metaphor. Brilliant! Yes, the streets are are litter free. This really says something about the attitude of the people living there, whether they be poor or rich. πŸ™‚

  9. Oh my … That is a BIG CITY …. Compared to little Γ–stersund where i live … I have never been to a city, that big … Your photos are great . // Maria πŸ™‚

  10. Hong Kong just grew, but I have seen photos of mainland China’s planned cities, planned and built from scratch. They are very orderly, but I’m sure they lack that amazing vitality one experiences in Hong Kong

  11. Interesting juxtaposition of contrasting public spaces. Is it a nice fragrance?

    • Thanks, Ray. I wouldn’t imagine that it’s very fragrant these days, with all the air pollution from the dirty shipping emissions. 😦

  12. Great post as usual AD and I would really die if I have to live so close to someone else for sure. We had a townhouse in Rustenburg where we lived for a year before we moved here and I tell you, living like that is truly claustrophobic. I won’t be able to adapt. I like free and open spaces and we are blessed if we do have that. I know I am. πŸ˜€
    Thanks for sharing hon and have a great weekend. πŸ˜€ *hugs*

      • My home is where my heart is AD and if I have to live it in a place like that with my loved ones, then I will do it. πŸ˜€

  13. I see they do a great job of keeping the city free of litter, unlike central Johannesburg πŸ™‚

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