Red Boats in the Floating City is a thesis project carried out by Karen Young at the Cambridge Design Research Studio.
The research has stemmed from an observation of the socio-cultural challenges faced by Cantonese Opera as it strives to establish its place in Hong Kong’s rapidly changing urban and cultural landscape today. The socio-cultural obstacles in cultivating this traditional genre is further complicated by a set of spatial challenges, which are intertwined with the city’s recent endeavour into culture-led urban development and placemaking projects.
The design project, rooted in an ongoing research into the practices of Cantonese Opera itself and modes of spatial production for cultural activities in present-day Hong Kong, presents a series of speculations on possible spatial responses and interventions that may shape alternative approaches to the preservation and sustainable cultivation of the artform. The project also experiments with creative ways of designing and inhabiting the city's public spaces. It advocates for a shift in the strategic focus from world-class cultural icons and institutions, to the envisioning of a versatile, networked, and collective spatial strategy.
The fieldwork phase in Hong Kong is a period dedicated to examining the implications of the outline design proposals on-site, gain first-hand information and engage with local experts to further support the final thesis and design project.
This investigation into Cantonese Opera and spatial strategies for this artform's possible futures serves as a critical lens through which we could comment and speculate on Hong Kong's future cultural landscape. With the increasingly intense external forces that the city and its culture has become subject to, how would a more inclusive, self-sufficient, and resilient cultural landscape be nurtured?
This website is an ongoing documentation of my research, fieldwork and other design developments, and will be continuously updated as the project progresses.