Hong Kong skins: signs and screens in a changing cityscape

Brian Sze-Hang Kwok, Anneke Coppoolse

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Hong Kong’s vertical cityscape presents two significant urban skins: one of explicit hues and one of particular disguise. Both these skins – materialized through neon signage and bamboo scaffolding – communicate visual narratives of Hong Kong that can be understood in their singularity and in their sequence. Neon signs and their distinct colour casts form visual skins of light that are highly particular to Hong Kong. Bamboo scaffolding, in its insistence on disguising both neon signs and entire façades, equally engenders local significance through handwork and skill as it layers up Hong Kong’s urban space. Yet, despite its particular ‘Hong Kong image’, it increasingly forms a prequel to a disappearance of what could be called a Hong Kong aesthetic. Via scaffolding, old skins disappear and new ones prevail: new skins that increasingly represent not a search for but a permanently lost identity. This visual essay explores images of peeling urban skins that address a perpetual disappearance of significance in light of neoliberal monotony.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-90
Number of pages20
JournalVisual Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Façades
  • Hong Kong
  • neon signs
  • scaffolding
  • urban aesthetics
  • urban renewal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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