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VJ Weijia Wang

Born in Hebei, China, WANG Weijia (VJ) received his bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture from Southwest University in 2010, Chongqing, China, and master degree in Industrial Design from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012, US. During his two-year study in America, from start to finish, Weijia considered himself as a long-term "tourist" of Chicago and designed several objects to help other tourists perceive Chicago in a fun, abstract manner that allows each to form the sense of the city which later became his master thesis “Sense of Chicago: from a ‘tourist’, for other tourists”. From then on Weijia began to be deeply interested in place identity & placemaking issues from space and/or object design perspectives. At the same time, his research interests were changed to be the intersection of design and social science and he strongly believed the designer could/should behave as the social citizen to serve the people. In 2012, Weijia joined the School of Design as a PhD student to investigate how the public open space performs and communicates sense of Hong Kong.

Research Title
Public Infrastructure as Public Place: Case Study of Hong Kong Footbridge as Public Place of Everyday Urbanism

Supervisors
Prof. Kin Wai Michael Siu (Chief Supervisor)
Dr. Kacey Wong (Co-supervisor)

About the Research
With the homogenizing effect of globalization recently, “Sense of Place” is becoming a significant issue for cities worldwide; much of the urban environment is becoming commoditized as a cultural product; many places are less and less distinguishable; awareness and concerns have arisen about the loss of uniqueness of the place. For Hong Kong where “East meets West”, this place issue is especially meaningful and necessary since it is significantly helpful for HK to maintain its cultural uniqueness and irreplaceability and makes it more chances succeed in future.

Public open space (POS) is an open space for public use in urban context. When we combine its physical settings with human presence and time, it turns to be a social space that can be seen as a vehicle for addressing cultural and historical issues and reflects the living synthesis of people, place, and time that build the place identity. This study regards POS as the touchstone for researching human cultural and historical representation and the inhabitants’ lifestyle impact on urban environments that contributes the sense of Hong Kong. Thus the main objectives of this study are:

  1. To discover what POS should represent based on social, cultural and historical perspectives and how it should perform to fit people’s lifestyle in Hong Kong;
  2. To study and analyze how the people’s urban lifestyle; social, cultural and historical preferences; and the POS implicating and enfolding by each other characterizes the place identity of Hong Kong;

More meaningful, this study itself can be considered as an experimental journey to examine and discover the role of private initiative in placemaking issues. It is also addressed on the answers to the questions: “How does the designer perform as the social citizen to make contributions to the society?”, “What is the designer’s social power?”…

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