In the post-war decades, #HongKongArchitects, many of them having migrated from China or studied overseas, embraced modern principles when forced to face the problems of housing shortage, mass construction and limited budgets in the British colony. Although economic efficiencies often prevailed over design, their buildings were rooted in their time and place, reflecting the local climate, social values, materials, technique and use in an often unique and pragmatic fashion.
Why it matters:
《香港摩登：一九五零至七零年代建築》展覽根據由城市規劃師、作家及攝影師 Walter Koditek 的同名著作所策劃，全方位結合攝影、詳細背景資料和學術論文，概述了香港於五十至七十年代的轉型時期的建築。當Koditek為這個項目記錄和捕捉各座建築物時，同時亦在邀請我們細看 #現代建築運動 的影響下所帶來的不同設計，以及當中為對應本地需求和條件下所呈現的細節。每座建築外牆均採用一致性的框架和組合，視覺上往往將觀者的注意力吸引，導致容易忽略了建築物的細微之處；不同建築外牆的設計及排列，不論是著名的地標或是主導香港城市景觀的常見建築，都反映出建築形式之間的潛在關係。
As #WalterKoditek documents and captures building facades for this project, he invites us to notice the different designs stemming from the #internationalModernMovement and how it has been adapted to suit local needs and conditions. Each facade, uniformly framed and composed, draws our attention to architectural details that are often overlooked, as well as the variety of appropriations that transformed their modern characters over time. The arrangement of facades, ranging from famous landmarks to mundane structures that dominate Hong Kong’s cityscape, presents an underlying relationship between these built forms.
．With more than 300 buildings and ensembles documented, the new publication “Hong Kong Modern Architecture of the 1950s-1970s” by Walter Koditek gives a comprehensive overview on the architecture of that transformative period in combining full-page photographs with detailed background information and further b/w images explaining and illustrating the design and history of these buildings. Information about the architects behind the projects and a series of academic essays penned by renowned scholars Cecilia L. CHU, Eunice SENG, Ying ZHOU, and Charles LAI complement the publication.
．While the book does not seek to provide a complete inventory, its unique documentary format, which deliberately mixes well-known architectural masterpieces with more mundane structures under seven specific building categories, invites viewers to comprehend the intrinsic relationships between these built forms and how their designs have been simultaneously shaped by the advent of the international Modern Movement and adaptions to the local context.
．Crucially, the uniform framing and composition of these compelling facade images directs attention not only to often overlooked architectural details, but also to the varied informal appropriations that transformed their modernist characters over time.
．The book aims to serve as a reference and enhance knowledge on modernist architecture of the post-war era in Hong Kong, and will contribute to the discussion of its architectural merit, historic and cultural values. Its publication was supported by the Goethe-Institut Hongkong, Design Trust Seed Grant, and Docomomo Hong Kong.
Background – Walter Koditek:
Walter Koditek生於德國，是一名城市規劃師、作家和攝影師，現居香港。在柏林工業大學畢業後，Walter第一階段的職業生涯讓他在各種規劃/設計諮詢公司獲得近二十年經驗，其後於大學任教。於2006年他移居亞洲，在柬埔寨和越南擔任城市規劃專家；於2014年移居香港，以這座城市作為顧問工作的基地，儘其所能去以相機記錄香港獨特的建築景觀。Walter一直致力於作為文化遺產保護的倡導者。他出版過攝影集Battambang Heritage》（2018 年，Apsara Books，香港），並合著了《Architectural Guide Phnom Penh》（2020 年，DOM Publishers，柏林），其後專注於香港的現代主義建築遺產。
Walter Koditek is a German urban planner, author and photographer based in Hong Kong. After graduating at Technical University Berlin, Walter’s first professional life had him practicing for almost two decades at various planning/design consultancies and teaching at university.
In 2006, he relocated to Asia, where he worked as an urban planning expert in Cambodia and Vietnam. He moved on to Hong Kong in 2014, using the city as a base for his consultant work, and documenting its unique architectural landscape with his camera whenever possible. Walter has always been a strong advocate of cultural heritage conservation. He published the photo book Battambang Heritage (2018, Apsara Books, Hong Kong) and co-authored the Architectural Guide Phnom Penh (2020, DOM Publishers, Berlin), before focusing on the modernist architectural legacy of Hong Kong.
With this exhibition and book, Koditek’s project not only serves as a visually compelling record of modernist architectural heritage found in the city, but also as a reminder and call to buildings that are on the verge of disappearance or redevelopment.
Hong Kong Modern Architecture of the 1950s – 1970s by Walter Koditek
2023.1.12 – 2023.2.12
Blue Lotus Gallery
G/F, 28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Courtesy to the gallery and the artist