Utopia Architecture: Why are the endings of most Utopia buildings the same, is the way we explored wrong?

Yi Cheong Building, located at 1046 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, is a group of commercial and mixed mixed-use old buildings with open property management. The architectural style is typical of the late 20th-century old buildings. Construction began in the 1960s, with a shopping mall downstairs and a private residence upstairs. The five buildings have a total of 2,243 three units and are expected to accommodate 14,000 people. Because it is vast and can provide large numbers of units for people, people call it a monster building.

(Zhaoyang 2018)

When the building was built in the early 1960s, it was called Baijia New Village. However, the developer disappeared into an unfinished building, and at the end, it was built and sold. The government was then responsible for redeveloping the project. It was not until 1972 that it was sold as five connected buildings, namely Seaview Building, Fuchang Building, Haishan Building, Yifa Building and Yichang Building.

The tram stops 10 meters from Yi Cheong building (Zhaoyang 2018)

This place has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong. What you experience here is different from the modernity and prosperity of high-rise buildings in Hong Kong. More, you will find a place where ordinary people in Hong Kong live. And Hong Kong is highly developed and leads to the narrowness and crowding of living spaces.

I believe that when the government re-engages in this project, even if it intends to make it a cheap house in the government, it still looks like a utopian building, but now the situation is obviously not that it has not reached the government architect of the year. Expectations. The filth of the surrounding environment and the odour that was asked when entering the building’s patio were enough to confirm my conjecture about the structure.

Panorama view in the U shape (Zhaoyang 2018)

I have emailed the real estate agent Mr Zhao who have few rooms ready for rent in Yi Cheong building. Zhao said the structure of this building is relatively rare. The old buildings were U-shaped or have patios. The reason was that Hong Kong’s residences were not set up the air conditioner at that time, so the construction of the building was focused on ventilation and lighting. Of course, it seems a bit wired now. More than 2,000 units, with an average of 3-4 people per unit, where tens of thousands of people live, think that it is terrible to wait for the elevators to go up and down every day.

The price here: a 12-square-meter room, the average cost of about 4 million Hong Kong dollars, the value of the room facing the airy room will be more expensive. Relative to the same price, if it is calculated in Australian dollars, it is about 700,000 AUD. After calculation, we know that the price per square meter is 58,800 AUD. This housing price is so expensive even compare the housing in Melbourne or Sydney. I believe this is a good point that shows the initial utopia idea already have something changed. One way or another, I feel the price is no longer “utopia”. It is way too expensive.

(Zhaoyang 2018)

As you can see, because there is no active property management committee to manage it in a unified manner, the air-conditioning of each household is different. It is a process of organic growth. Some property companies in Hong Kong have a tough attitude. Therefore, it is guaranteed that the structure of each rented outdoor department is relatively uniform. The building itself is vast, and the property management company’s indulgence of households to change the exterior walls and installation equipment has created a large and messy view that we see today.

In the book Architecture and utopia, Tafuri wrote: There are no more utopias, the architecture of commitment, which tried to engage us politically and socially, is finished, and what is left to pursue is empty architecture. In this case, the “utopia” housing already become a business idea for the owner. For poor people, they will stark on this situation and struggling about where they going to live. Apparently, I just found out: the utopia idea changed to dis-utopia will not only because of the environment or quality of surrounding people, but it also affects by the politically and socially.

No matter whether it is socialism or capitalist land, the beauty of Utopia is not realised. In the end, because Utopia architecture is really Utopianism, it is the most illusory ideology of illusion, or whether we can demand a way to bring us closer to Utopia architecture and let more people benefit from Utopian architecture. Rather than blindly building social housing, let people live in. And announce that we are disappointed to say that this building does not meet the ideal of Utopia.

Reference list:

Tafuri, Manfredo, and Barbara Luigia La Penta. 1973. Architecture And Utopia. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

BIRAGHI, MARCO. 2019. “Manfredo Tafuri (1935-1994)”. Architectural Review. https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/reputations-pen-portraits-/manfredo-tafuri-1935-1994/8663417.article.