Border Ecologies Exhibition

Border Ecologies: Hong Kong’s Mainland Frontier

Peter Hasdell, Associate Professor of PolyU Design recently published a new book titled ‘Border Ecologies: Hong Kong’s Mainland Frontier’ with his colleague Joshua Bolchover of The University of Hong Kong. The book is the result of their ‘Border Ecologies’ project conducted since 2008, a research investigating the dissolving border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

The book published by Birkhäuser is now available at

Hong Kong’s border with Shenzhen is incrementally dissolving. By 2047, 50 years after the 1997 handover of Hong Kong the border will most likely no longer exist. This will mean the conjoining of the economic, political, and social systems that have so far been able to operate distinctly under the “One Country Two Systems” policy. Hong Kong will become fully integrated into Mainland China. Or will it? The uncertainty surrounding what will actually happen has created huge anxiety for many Hong Kongers. Citizens are concerned about preserving cultural differences and values, language, freedom of speech and their right to vote.

Caught within this debate is the Frontier Closed Area, a buffer zone created by the British in 1951. This closed land has remained as a landscape of eco-systems including tidal estuaries, fish farms, primary forests, historic villages and abandoned military posts. In stark contrast Shenzhen, the poster-child of China’s economic reform era across the border has exploded into an urban metropolis of 15 million. This book explores the unique border ecology of this intermediary zone and its specific narratives and spatial effects that evolved through the changing relationships between Hong Kong and the Mainland.  Revealing a complex set of relationships that operate between macro-policies and micro-conditions on the ground. Our speculations are insertions within this ecology: offering open-ended forms of development that adjust to the region’s unknown political future.

Borders however are not simply divisions between nation states. As cities become more polarized and segregated producing walled compounds and defensive enclaves, micro-borders are becoming increasingly pervasive. This book frames a wider agenda for border issues to raise critical questions and propose spatial strategies that will have relevance in other urbanized conditions elsewhere. 


‘Border Ecologies: Hong Kong’s Mainland Frontier,’ Joshua Bolchover and Peter Hasdell, Birkhauser, Zurich, 2016. The book is available through Amazon.


Joshua Bolchover and Peter Hasdell have been collaborating on “Border Ecologies” since 2008. Joshua Bolchover is an Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong and Peter Hasdell is an Associate Professor at the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Both are architects who have worked extensively in the fields of planning and urbanism. The project began after Raoul Bunschoten, former mentor, teacher and employer, introduced Joshua and Peter in 2007. The shared experiences of working with Raoul at Chora Institute of Architecture and Urbanism and his insights into urban dynamics formed a common ground, conceptual foundation and a point of departure for the project and its methodology. The book has been supported by the Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong and the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and funded by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Seed Funding for Basic Research, The University of Hong Kong; Department General Research Funds (School of Design), Polytechnic University Start-up Funding.  Additional thanks: Matthew Hung for research, concept development and production; Bas Princen for photography; Thomas Dahm for graphic design; Jessica Pyman for editing; Mary Ann O’Donnell and Viola Yan Wan for their essay; Brian Wong for fieldwork; Katharina Kulke and Ulrich Schmidt at Birkhäuser and Siu Hon-cheung for facilitating access to the FCA. All project designs, diagrams, images and photographs are the copyright of Joshua Bolchover and Peter Hasdell. 

Project team:

Authors: Joshua Bolchover and Peter Hasdell
Senior Research Assistant: Matthew Hung
Research Assistants: Brian Wong; Jonathan Pang; Alana Tam; Su Chang, Kevin Huang, Chan Yat Ning Chester, Maggie Hua.
Graphic Design: Thomas Dahm, Studio Thomas Dahm