Occupy Central

Mapping out the protest sites for history

Architects document the culture and growth of Occupy Central zones

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 December, 2014, 12:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 December, 2014, 12:48am

The spot where the tear gas was fired, the tent villages, the post-it note wall and study corner are all among the landmarks that will go into a mapping project aimed at documenting the growth of the Occupy Central sites.

While police are expected to clear the Admiralty site tomorrow, expatriate architects Caroline Wuethrich and Geraldine Borio, both from Switzerland, said they were drawn by the unique way the pro-democracy protesters have expressed their messages in objects and space.

"The movement has inspired so much ad hoc architecture in such a brief period of time," said Wuethrich.

"All three protest sites are self-built, rapidly organised and beautiful tools of protest, leisure, worship and infrastructure."

She said the self-made barricades, supply infrastructure and temporary institutions like cinemas and libraries inscribe themselves into the site and represent physical and metaphorical marks that are loaded with meaning.

"By showing these physical objects in context and in relation to each other, these maps reveal the way protesters have repurposed the space over time," said Wuethrich.

The pair, co-founders of Swiss Registered Architect, volunteered to begin mapping the movement in the first week of protests, shortly after tear gas was fired by police on September 28. They said that the map would not be 100 per cent accurate, but that they had visited the sites frequently and made regular updates.

Borio said the three protest sites - in Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay - each represented a different aspect of local culture. "You can see the situation is beyond just demanding democracy now," she said. "We do not know how long the protest will last. We hope the map will offer a different understanding and memories of the protest."

Wuethrich said: "It is amazing how Hongkongers are so adaptive to needs and constraints.

"It is well known that space is limited in this city, but Hongkongers often come up with something creative and functional in response to it. It is not something that can be learnt or copied, it is an instinct."

They hoped that the map would one day be exhibited on a larger scale as a historical document to remember the actions of the movement.