MDes Talks: Live from Home

After wandering all summer discovering the meaning of home for Hong Kong millennials I had come to a few points to define it: home is where one can express their true identity, home is closely related to this identity and in the case of Hong Kong millennials, home is the most often a place outside the family flat.


Related Articles: What Is Home for Hong Kong Millennials 


Capstone Project

In September we started the second part of the Capstone: the project phase. Here, we were invited to pursue the topic of our summer research into a project, or to start anew on a different topic. I felt that there was still a lot to explore on the topic of home and decided to go for a more defined example in Hong Kong. I wanted a topic that brings people together and carries a complex community consisted of a large number of participants from a wide range of backgrounds. In Hong Kong, even there are a lot of different cultures co-existing, only a few topics attract them to come together and truly exchange with each other. One of these universal topics is music. Because it is a language in itself and indie music scene in Hong Kong is discussed in one of my research interviews, I decided to follow this lead.

Once again, I had the help from my friends as I kept following the life of Seasons for Change, a band in which my friend plays. Soon they invited me to join a tour in Taiwan where I could experience the similarities and the differences between the two countries.

Urban Environments Design - Capstone Project
Sounds check in the Chiayi livehouse

Taiwan Trip

It was my first time in Taiwan and our trip took us to Taichung and Chiayi. I went there with a list of goals which made the trip like a dense workshop for me. The first part was about the Capstone obviously: collecting information through interviews, photography, and personal notes. I had to be particularly focused as I knew nothing about the topic. The second part was about the photos themselves. Since I moved to Hong Kong, I worked harder, and I took the trip as a (photographic?) exercise. Finally, I also had to enjoy because it is not the kind of event to which I am often invited.

The trip was mostly friends spending time together, as Taiwanese and Hong Kong bands already knew each other for a while. The two shows were in very different live houses and were both interesting. The trip was also to see the differences in the Taiwanese and Hong Kong artists’ lifestyle and how the way they live have an impact on the music produced.

Urban Environments Design - Capstone Project
Barbecue time in Taiwan

Hong Kong Situation

In Taiwan, if the indie music has quite a (developed?) environment with lots of live houses, recognition and streams of audience, it is not the case of its Hong Kong counterpart. At the end of October 2017, one of the main stages of the city, Hidden Agenda, was closed thus leaving a void for artists to find a place to play and exchange music. Kwun Tong is housing a big part of the music rooms, but due to urban renewal, the neighbourhood is under transformation without given much consideration to the needs of the bands and so not yet offering an alternative for music rooms. A few places host some shows but we are far from the twentyish live houses of Taipei.

Urban Environments Design - Capstone Project
Seasons for Change performing in Baptist University

Building a Home

By connecting the community: The first part to improve the sense of connectedness, especially among the millennials, is to improve the visibility of the community online. Offering a platform, not only to give the much-needed information about shows and music releases, will also be a common place where people can frequent, to exchange and connect.

Through an offline network: The second part obviously a network of places where musicians can play, practise, but also learn, experiment and get new people on board. Hidden Agenda had the idea of having a live house being more than just a stage. The kind of live houses with multiple functions is definitely something missing in Hong Kong.

It is this network on which I have been more focused for my project. Splat? (not sure if I get the meaning) in five typologies of spaces needed, the network would fulfill the characteristics of a home and allow the indie music community to grow in a healthy way. The idea is to allow the musicians and audience (a) to find one another, to come together as a community, and as a community, (b) to exchange views with the government and eventually to create policies with mutual good, (c) to engage the public and make indie music a part of Hong Kong lifestyle.

Hong Kong has a lot of potential when it comes to indie music, there are a good number of bands creating great and diverse music. Their creativity need space to be expressed but now lacking. The bottleneck can be improved if industrial neigbourhoods like Fo Tan start welcoming more and more artists in the future.

Urban Environments Design - Capstone Project
OBSESS in Chiayi

Photo Credit: Mathilde Gattegno


Posted by Mathilde Gattegno – from Paris and love to see the world. Graduated from architecture with an option in civil engineering. Curious about everything, a huge bookworm, a little bit geek and also enjoy music, sports, going outside to take pictures. Hong Kong is a brand new playground!
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MDes Talks is a series of Student Blogs contributed by students in different specialisms under the Master of Design Scheme. It is set out to share students’ first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.