Founder of Groundwork Architects & Associates Ltd.
Studied architecture at Cambridge University
Worked for Pentagram Design, London, Coop Himmeb(l)au, Vienna
Lecturer at Kingston University, London, and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Research fellow of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Design Institute of Social Innovation
Following fire accidents in the Fa Yuen Street Outdoor Hawker Stall Area in December 2010 and November 2011, PolyU formed a multidisciplinary expert team to study and explore hawker stalls arrangement and design on Fa Yuen Street. The Project aimed to study possible improvement of hawker stalls, along two related directions- an engineering approach and a social science approach.
Throughout our site survey, we realized the importance of acquiring a full understanding of hawker activities along Fa Yuen Street before we propose a new design for hawkers. Every hawker would require a unique display system of goods that is specific to their needs. To improve the business operating environment, we provided a matrix of designs that are responding to three different site conditions and typologies. Each hawker stall is divided into three parts: the top, body and shelves. Hawkers may choose from the four types of body and shelves that best fit their stall’s situation. The weights of structure and detachable doors are much heavier thus our new design systems minimize the number of detachable doors. Doors are mostly hinged and castors provide additional support. Thus, unfolding these doors will be effortless. Another top made of corrugated metal is fixed on existing tops with two sliding tracks. This simple connection allows the retractable top to be easily extended and retracted. Roofs extend outward also connect the whole market street.
After spending eight months on public engagement and data collection and three months on concluding the design resolution, we gave the design to contractor and hawkers directly. The process of setting up hawker stalls used to take 60 minutes. With our new improvements to ease the “popping and packing” pain for aging and physically weak hawkers, setup time now has been reduced to mere 15 minutes! Our design allows hawkers to appropriate and customize the stalls according to their display and ergonomic needs. This project took four years to implement, till date more than 4,063 hawker stalls have been renewed to our new designs.
Markets enliven city life and this effective participatory design solution enhances safety and the attractiveness of hawker stalls. It can be replicable in other market contexts.