Author(s): Chi-Yuen Leung, Daniel Keith Elkin, Wang Xiaolu Norah & Wantanee Suntikul
This paper concerns research conducted in Tai O Village, a stilt house settlement within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Tai O is subject to tourism development planning by the Government of the HKSAR. Planning documents rely on Tai O’s historic stilt house vernacular architecture to position Tai O Village as a cultural and ecological tourism destination. In preparation, the Government began infrastructure development to better connect Tai O’s remote location to nearby transit centres. However, because of stilt houses’ status as “surveyed squatter structures,” there is inequality in Village residents’ ability to participate in tourism development. Stilt house owners and residents may not renovate or improve their homes at risk of removal. In spite of the centuries Tai O’s population lived in stilt houses, residents face futures in which they are subject to development planning strategy, yet less able to take advantage of its benefits, and vulnerable to economic and ecological threats it causes. This paper examines two ongoing research themes in Tai O. First, the paper discusses Tourism and Fishing Economies in Tai O through resident field interview responses. Second, this paper discusses progressions in construction technology evident through site survey in Tai O’s stilt house districts. In conclusion, this paper frames research responses anticipating future additional research and design projects. These efforts connect to a spatial activist framework, with activist structure research support, collective development action, and network-based prototyping methodologies.