MDes Talks: It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

The title of this blog is borrowed from the name of a movie released in 2015. The story and the scenario aside, the movie tells some interesting points about Hong Kong. In it, one of the characters tells how the present moment is already tomorrow in Hong Kong if compared to other cities. He does not only refer to the time zone but also the speed of the city itself – the escalators, the noises in the streets, people, cars, planes rushing everywhere, the intense nightlife – which always makes the city dynamic and bright. For me, as a foreigner, it makes sense and adding to that, somehow things seem to work better in Hong Kong than in Brazil.

Another proof about the temporality of Hong Kong being a fascination to foreigners is its inspiration to many futuristic movies, games, animations, especially within the dystopian Sci-fi genre like Blade Runner (1982), Ghost in the Shell (1995), Sleeping Dogs (2012), and Pacific Rim (2013) and of course, their newest versions and interpretations. Somehow, elements in this city today, or even in the past, can trigger future imaginery.

It's Already Tomorrow in Hong KongBright lights, an element of the present in the future imaginery

It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
Intense night life in Hong Kong

Outside the gaming and movie world, the title prompts me to think of the relationship between the city and a time that has already come, the future. The question is, what are the real issues linking future and Hong Kong?

Besides the uncertain political future marked for 2047, there is yet another important deadline for the city. According to a strategic study led by the Development Bureau and Planning Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR - “Hong Kong 2030+” - the city has a series of plans for improvement and growth progressing to 2030. The framework has three building blocks: Planning for a Livable High-density City, Embracing New Economic Challenges and Opportunities, and Creating Capacity for Sustainable Growth. In other words, the targets are about bringing quality life in a dense and intense city; using innovation, collaboration and technological development to support the future economy and finally, a green, smart and resilient city.

Some people might disagree with the targets set forth or dismiss a future for Hong Kong saying “the city is not as good as it used to be,” or “the golden years of Hong Kong are gone” and so on. But one thing I learnt from living here for almost two years is, people in Hong Kong are dreamers and they can make dreams a reality. Changes, and often those involving many people or complexity, can go at a slow pace, but they do happen. To me, the spirit is manifested in local music in a different context; the lyrics communicate hope and dreams unlike most songs in western popular culture.

It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

Lyrics of dreams and hope by established bands

It's Already Tomorrow in Hong KongMusicians of the younger generation

The transition towards the future has been in the news and schools every day: you will see space gathered with young people who have ideas and the will to change the future. On campus and in the street, you see people taking a bottom-up approach to fight for a cause or to take small actions to improve little things for the underprivileged. These are fuels for bringing innovation to life for leading a brighter and democratic future.

PolyU connects with incubation programmes and funding networks and offers many entrepreneurship opportunities in different areas, from social innovation, to technology and sustainability. Outside the universities, the government established SIE Fund (The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund) as “a catalyst for social innovation in Hong Kong, connects our community with different sectors, including businesses, NGOs, academics and philanthropies to create social impact through innovative solutions that address poverty and social exclusion”. PolyU Good Seed, one of the intermediaries of SIE Fund, offers HK$100,000 for Social Innovation projects under “Design and Technology”.

Young generation has a growing following from the media and the public, recognising their determination to fight and change the future for the better. Here are some examples: Emily Tang, redesigning toilets for Parkinson’s patients; Rico Chan, founder of Beyond Vision Project, a social enterprise to enhance the visually impaired and elderly with low vision’s quality of life; and Kenneth Yim, founder of ICE Makes, a HK based game design company on a mission to create fun and innovative games that ultimately bring people closer together. Also there are many others with their own initiatives that are less visible, like many of the participants I’ve met in the Good Seed programme.

It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong Activities exploring social issues - PolyU Good Seed 

It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
Interaction and exchange of ideas - PolyU Good Seed 

In my home country, the possibility to bring about change is met with bigger difficulties. People have less government or funding support, or they need the influence to make it work. If not, they have to improvise. And even if they do, the impact to the society is close to nothing, compared to the potential impact with support. Maybe this is one of the reasons I see (my) future in Hong Kong. For those that are coming to this city or already live here, my words are:

Dream, Make It Happen!

The future can start now.

It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
Dream and make it happen, the future can be here and now - it depends on your decision.

Photo Credit: Header and list image: Portland Seminary/ Flickr. Content images: Sylvia Yeung

Posted by Sylvia Yeung - Living the 20's years old issues and doubts. Born in Brazil, with the heart in Hong Kong. Graduated in Architecture and Urban Planning at Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo. Living and exploring the concrete jungle and mix of emotions contained in the city where the journey of the ancestors began. A current Master's student in Urban Environments Design (MDes).
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.