In late May, Perspective travelled to the Venice Biennale of Architecture. This year's curators – two female Irish architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara – invited architects from around the world to interpret Freespace, the quality, freedom and future of space. Renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (featured on this month's cover), once told Perspective "there's no freedom in architecture". This statement now seems more pertinent than ever.
Hong Kong architects have always had a love-hate relationship with space. Often restricted by the city's limited offerings, they are at the same time often inspired by them. Hong Kong's Venice Biennale exhibition, Vertical Fabric: Density in Landscape, paints an enthralling portrait of our vertical city and its crowded spaces. Comprising more than 100 model towers, the show makes a powerful statement about the progress of Hong Kong's architecture. Yet, what impressed me most is the deconstruction of the city's architectural frailties and the poignancy behind high-rise pride, which is both honest and human. And have we done our best to make the most of what nature and geology have given us? Arguably, Hong Kong is one of the most remarkable blends of natural landscape and urbanisation on the globe.
The much-feted exhibition was organised by The Hong Kong Institute of Architects Biennale Foundation and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, supported by The Hong Kong Institute of Architects and the government's Create Hong Kong. The Venice team included the curatorial team spearheaded by Professor Wang Weijen of The University of Hong Kong, and exhibitors invited from the city, mainland China and overseas. Though the towers are experimental models, Wang, emotional during the exhibition's opening ceremony, believes all can be realised.
This summer, Perspective hosted its annual 40 Under 40 Awards. Though the programme was conceived to promote local talent and that from the Asia-Pacific region, numerous designers from Europe and further abroad were also awarded this year. Ahead of the ceremony, a forum examined the future of Hong Kong's waterfront. Themed 'Harbouring ambitions: shape the future of Hong Kong's waterfront', Perspective invited seven professionals from the fields of architecture and design to diagnose problems and suggest solutions. They examined the responsibility of government, developers and architects, and put forward ways of building a connected city. It was encouraging to witness their enthusiasm, and the debate attracted plenty of input from the audience. The discussion engendered cross-functional proposals that were once the preserve of government urban planners; we look forward to an inclusive and above all humanitarian way of planning Hong Kong's future.