Siu Kai Fong
Kevin Mak

Siu Kai Fong - Community Engagement Public Space Art Installation

O&O Studio as Architects

MEMORIES OF NORTH POINT
NORTH POINT RESIDENTS’ ORAL HISTORIES AND BELOVED FURNISHINGS INSPIRED O&O STUDIO AND REHYPHENATION’S SIU KAI FONG, SHOWCASING A RICH TAPESTRY OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD’S PAST FOR THE PRESENT.

photo_credit Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak
photo_credit Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak

BACKGROUND
In response to Hong Kong Arts Centre’s (HKAC) open invitation for community-driven public art, Hong Kong firms O&O Studio (O&O) and REHyphenation proposed Siu Kai Fong.  With support from the Urban Renewal Fund, Siu Kai Fong went on to become one of six winning entries commissioned and installed in the vicinity of North Point Ferry Pier.

Exhibited between 30 August and 31st October, 2021, Siu Kai Fong is a reflection of the neighbourhood’s daily usage of the causeway. Further, it captures the historic district’s personal narratives through repurposed furnishings gathered from North Point households and businesses for visitors to experience a piece of the past.

Architects Eric Chan and Suzanne Li established O&O in 2018, returning to their hometown of Hong Kong after working in Shanghai and London. Joyce Fok of REHyphenation teaches visual arts. Chan and Fok volunteer with NGO Hong Kong Public Space Initiative where they share community building aspirations. The three participated in Via North Point Festival’s competition with the conviction that social engagement across multiple generations was a solution that benefits neighourhoods.

photo_credit Eric Chan
Eric Chan

PLACE
Upon repeated visits, the team observed that the public pier was frequented by people participating in different activities at every hour of the day. People fished, boarded sampans, exercised, strolled on dates or, particularly in the case of the area’s elderly, used the causeway for rest and relaxation. Online research and community discussions further yielded a key fact: users of the causeway bring household furniture to use and readily share them with others. In contrast to the street furnishings provided by the Hong Kong government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, these furnishings are not fixed and people move them to where needed. North Point’s communal furniture became the basis for Siu Kai Fong.

MOTIVE
“We wanted Siu Kai Fong to reflect the neighbourhood practise of re-using old furnishings but include pieces that have stories to tell,” explained Chan.

COLLECTION CAMPAIGN
To that end, the team joined hands with HKAC to reach out to the North Point community for donations. “Some furniture required repurposing or revamping while we were able to leave other pieces as-is to preserve their memories,” said Fok.

The team eventually received 47 chairs and three tables through donations. For the ones with compelling histories, narratives by voice actors provided lively recordings of seven chairs accessible via scanning QR codes embedded on each piece. “Some furnishings came from commercial enterprises, such as the area’s eateries and stores,” recalled Li. “Others were chairs used in schools that Joyce helped us obtain, as North Point is home to many established primary and secondary schools. The rest came from residents who used them within North Point homes.”

photo_credit Eric Chan
Eric Chan

One chair originally came from a colonial era government office. It ended up in a student’s home and she grew up with the chair; even when she moved, she could not part with this piece of her upbringing. Two other chairs originated from shops along Chun Yeung Street market. The rocking chair was originally a favourite place to sit for a North Point grandmother.

A small green plywood chair came from a Women’s Welfare Club (Eastern District) nursery. Another chair was previously used in the now defunct Java Road Government School, and turned up in a store operated by a family in Java Road Market and Cooked Food Centre. The store owner picked the chair up from a rubbish pile, and for years his daughter sat on it to do homework while he attended to customers.

photo_credit Eric Chan
Eric Chan

Sofas, benches and upholstered chairs offered were deemed unsuitable for Siu Kai Fong due to potential adverse weather conditions impacting the site during its run. A few of the school chairs were bundled together and transformed into rocking chairs that all shared a base. Items beyond repair were wrapped in clear acrylic to allow for usage alongside contemplation. A former mahjong tabletop invited people to consider its history as they sat around it to enjoy a drink or browse their phone. 

photo_credit Eric Chan
Eric Chan
photo_credit Eric Chan
Eric Chan
photo_credit Eric Chan
Eric Chan

The team’s eventual solution is a compilation resembling an outdoor urban living room complemented by painted ground graphics. The bright flooring is reminiscent of colourful heritage tiles and patterns commonly found in tenement buildings. Some with deteriorated legs or worn seats required repairs.

photo_credit Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak
photo_credit Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak

AFTERLIFE
“Siu Kai Fong made us realise the closeness of Hong Kong’s communities and the invisible connections that bind us all,” said Li.

“Eventually, the government will build a promenade here for cycling and this collective space will be gone,” noted Fok.

“Siu Kai Fong acts as a record of a time and place in North Point,” said Chan. “Since its unveiling, we have been pleasantly surprised how people have used the chairs in unexpected ways. It is not a finite installation. We noticed many bringing new furniture there to share. Siu Kai Fong has taken on a life of its own.”

After the exhibition ends, components from Siu Kai Fong will live on through charity sales and educational events to achieve a closed loop cycle that continues to benefit Hong Kong communities.

photo_credit Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak

About Via North Point
North Point is a fascinating location full of collective memories yet also undergoing rapid urban and socio-economic transformation, populated with diverse neighbourhoods. The Project carries a key mission in empowering the community to envision a better future use of public space, and enhance the quality of living for North Point Residents. Together with the concerted efforts with the collaborators, Hong Kong Arts Centre design and engage the community with a series of participatory programmers and creative artistic structures to connect the new and the old areas in the district, building capacity on public space, celebrating the uniqueness of North Point and hence cultivating a sense of belonging and building the cultural citizenship through imaginations of urban spaces.

photo_credit O&O Studio
O&O Studio
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