Undevelopable metal, curvature, and tooling-based research in Hong Kong’s compressed space

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1 Citation (Scopus)


How does the spatial compression of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) effect the relationship between designers and regionally established industries? How do spatial and real estate pressures and the “hollowing out” of Hong Kong’s industry, effect tooling-based design research and design build practice? Hong Kong’s history of industrial products exported to other parts of Southeast Asia and the world has made the city a seasoned player in international commerce since before British colonization [1]. Conversely, the “spatial compression” described by Michelle Huang is a relatively new occurrence produced by Hong Kong’s focus on service and financial trades, ensuing policy-facilitated redevelopment, and increase in urban and sub-urban rents [2]. This compression serves the knowledge-economy elite of Hong Kong well as they participate in the financial capitalization David R. Meyer called the “global metropolis” [3], and rent new Class A office space throughout the city. This phenomenon simultaneously puts pressure on industrial small and medium enterprises (SME’s) that, especially since World War II, have formed a large part of Hong Kong’s socioeconomic fabric. This research uses survey, qualitative interview, and design-research study to investigate the status and outlook of one such group of SME’s, metalworkers in Hong Kong. Project staff’s structured and semi-structured interviews provided insight on metalworkers’ businesses, while prototyping research, tool cataloging and custom metal furnishing commissions allowed project staff to build trust, develop meaningful relationships, and understand more deeply how the realities of doing business in Hong Kong have effected these industrial professionals. Through this tooling-based research, the project works to make meaningful correlations between fabricators’ tooling capacities, the industrial and real estate economy they occupy, and its effects on design practice in “Asia’s World City.”

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Annual International Conference on Architecture and Civil Engineering
Issue number216379
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Event6th Annual International Conference on Architecture and Civil Engineering, ACE 2018 - Singapore , Singapore
Duration: 14 May 201815 May 2018


  • Design Agency
  • Design Representation
  • Design-Build
  • Local Economies
  • Tooling-based Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction


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