School of Architecture, CUHK

Magic Carpet (Hong Kong) by
Prof. Hendrik Tieben

Magic Carpet: Re-envisioning Community Space is an outreach research project combining urban design, documentary filming and community engagement. It was launched in 2013 by the School of Architecture and School of Journalism and Communication at CUHK.

Led by Prof. Hendrik Tieben, Magic Carpet uses a simple set-up of an artificial grass carpet, beanbags, a projector and a screen to transform an underused public space into an outdoor cinema for one evening. The project was first organised in Sai Ying Pun (2013) to great response, and was subsequently brought to Tin Shui Wai (2014) and To Kwa Wan (2016) – each of these districts presented its own issues of social polarisation and spatial degradation.

The movies shown at Magic Carpet concerned the respective neighbourhoods and were produced by local secondary school students, following a series of workshops that prepared the students to conduct video-interviews with local residents, while informed by the urban development of their home district. At the event, community members interacted with each other as they watched and discussed the movies, empowered to build a stronger bond while re-envisioning and re-making public space together.

Following Magic Carpet, more initiatives have been carried out to further transform public space, such as the Magic Tables project in 2015, where a group of Urban Studies students designed bespoke tables and seating for the sloped Centre Street in Sai Ying Pun. Magic Lanes, a community design studio with Prof. Tieben serving as a consultant, was opened in 2017 on Sheung Fung Lane, Sai Ying Pun, as a hub to encourage local residents to participate in the process of place re-making.

In 2017, Magic Carpet: A Step-by-Step Guide was published and distributed to all secondary schools in Hong Kong, illustrating the process of developing one’s own Magic Carpet project.

Magic Carpet was supported by CUHK’s Knowledge Transfer Fund (2013, 2014) and HKSAR Government’s Quality Education Fund (2016). It was developed out of Prof. Tieben’s General Research Fund projects “Measuring Community Benefit in Public Space Transformation in Older Urban Districts: A Case Study of Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun” (2012-13) and “Measuring the Impact of the MTR West Island Line on Public Space and Community Life in Hong Kong’s Western Districts” (2014-16), with professors Essy Baniassad, Sujata Govada and Helen Grace as co-investigators.

More information can be found at the Magic Carpet project website and YouTube channel.

Project Leader:
Prof. Hendrik Tieben, School of Architecture

Project Collaborators:
Prof. Anthony Fung, School of Journalism and Communication
Prof. Colin Fournier, School of Architecture

Project Managers:
Yip Kai-chun
Wong Yui-sze

Participating Secondary Schools:
King’s College (Sai Ying Pun, 2013)
Pui Shing Catholic Secondary School (Tin Shui Wai, 2014)
Heep Yunn School (To Kwa Wan, 2016)

Project Partners:
The Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage (CACHe)
Tin Sau Bazaar, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals
House of To Kwa Wan Stories (ToHome)

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