Hong Kong

Footbridge City

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In Cities Without Ground (ORO Editions), the architecture writers Adam Frampton, Jonathan Solomon, and Clara Wong argue that in Hong Kong, "physical ground is equal parts elusive and irrelevant." A constantly evolving network of footbridges and other pathways allows you to travel long distances without setting foot on sidewalk, street, or soil—and even when you think you've touched down, "what appears to be terra firma was likely water not so long ago."

The book maps this space in three dimensions, showing not just the paths that grew piecemeal—"built by different parties at different times to serve different immediate needs"—but the ways ordinary people adapt the environment for their own uses. A protest here, a marketplace there; gamblers gather here, teenage girls there. Here is improvised restaurant seating, there are vendors selling knockoff goods, and there's an encampment of domestic workers. Altogether, a vibrant, spontaneous public life in "spaces that do not resemble a street or a square."  —Jesse Walker