#ddHK: Building Creative Communities with Design-led Placemaking

It probably comes as no surprises that public spaces in Hong Kong tend to carry some of the traits as its signature land issue — small and heavily regulated. It may not be the kind of public space that typical big cities have, but with great vision, collective effort and a pinch of creativity, these particular characteristics can be transformed into authentic local advantages and experiences. Some community-led organisations have been experimenting with placemaking to open up our imagination to the possibilities of public space. West Kowloon Cultural District’s Freespace Fest constructs an art-oriented community from the ground up. Walk DVRC advocates to pedestrianise part of Des Voeux Road Central to create a walkable commercial district. Make a Difference (MaD) harnesses the creativity of youths and the power of design thinking to re-invent alternative usage of public space.

All these fabulous community endeavours have paved the way for creating a vibrant public culture through art and creativity. Presented by the Tourism Commission, organised by Hong Kong Design Centre and with Hong Kong Comics & Animation Federation as Strategic Partner, Design District Hong Kong, going by the trending moniker #ddHK, will soon be launched in December. The 3-year creative tourism project is the first one in Hong Kong rolling creative placemaking, tourism, heritage, innovation and culture into one to lead tourists and public to discover a different Hong Kong. Instead of previous placemaking attempts focusing on a specific location in a short period of time, #ddHK is in city-wide scale, rebranding Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po as design districts through a series of creative placemaking and creative events, decorating the city as well as activating public areas. One of the highlights would definitely be #dd24, an exciting 24-hour creative event taking place in Wan Chai.

Local design collective One Bite Design Studio is the creative engine behind #dd24. Inspired by the contrasting vibes between the day and night in Wan Chai, they want the public to experience the thrill of discovering the endless possibilities of public space. “We’d like to illustrate how space can be enhanced and transformed so that people of all ages and from all walks of life can enjoy public space.” They also gave us a sneak peek, “Starting from Friday 6 PM to 6 PM the next day in December, there’ll be something for everyone.” The spirited 24 hours will get off the ground starting from the after-work happy hour. After a quick “bottoms up”, the venue will be transformed for the adventurous to explore multimedia mid-night journeys. Approaching dawn, it will become a place for daybreak exercises again. Other fun-filled programmes will follow until a mini-concert wraps up the transformative 24 hours.

Just by this quick preview, we can already expect #dd24 to bring a one-of-a-kind experience which many of us wish can be more common in our city. But this is not all — One Bite further hinted an element of surprise, “We will feature at least 4 spatial designs to accommodate respective programmes in which street furniture and installations will be rearranged creatively on site.” Speaking about the essence of their placemaking, they chalked it up to understanding the unique qualities of the local community, “By collaborating with local users, we hope to create an authentic, vibrant and sustainable platform that benefits the broader community. We hope to kickstart a wider conversation on placemaking and inspire people to reimagine and reinvent public space as a platform for shared values.” 

 #dd24 will take place in Wan Chai in which international events like Business of Design Week (BODW) will take place during the same period. Apart from #dd24, #ddHK will be bringing a host of fun projects and programmes in the coming 3 years to Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po, providing a platform for the creative neighbourhood to emerge day and night. Stay tuned to see how this new page of creative tourism and placemaking unfolds!