City: Hong Kong
Creator: Edge Design Institute
Hong Kong’s extreme density has made its residents particularly skilled at maximizing the use of their city’s structures and surfaces. Morning Tai Chi sessions are held on the cement forecourts of large office buildings. Street traders set up shop with specially crafted tables and stands which bolt on to public fences and posts. The lighting of its waterfront corporate buildings are choreographed and set to music at night to create an ornate public light and sound show for the delight of tourists.
In the center of one of the island’s busiest commercial districts, tired shoppers and businesspeople can get a few minutes of rest as they relax in a mini urban pack, complete with seats and trees. A park in a central business district isn’t extraordinary in itself, until one realizes that this park is a free-standing complete unit that has been attached on top of an existing cement stairway.
Located at The Centrium in Hong Kong Central, The Cascade represents a layering of opportunity on top of one of the city’s countless functional stairways. Complete with Bauhinia trees, individual and adjoining seating areas and a lighting scheme that changes with the area’s nighttime atmosphere, The Cascade provides a variety of private and public moments in the otherwise utilitarian commercial area, illustrating the potential for public stairs everywhere to be reprogrammed into a space for the rest and relaxation of residents.
The Cascade is the manifestation of Hong Kong’s malleable relationship with its existing physical terrain and a container of ideas ripe for adoption in a number of dense urban areas. Its creators, Edge Design Institute, describe The Cascade as “an artificial landscape that responds to the unique topography of the site: a cascade of steps that creates a public thoroughfare and generates potentials for a delicately-scaled public space that have often been overlooked.”