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City Guide : Hong KongHaving myriad things to explore and to experience, this Chinese city is full of treasuries of Asian and Western components. Eclectic towers, modern splendors, esoteric temples, natural kaleidoscopes and colorful parks, cultural heritages and idiosyncrasies, everlasting shopping and entertainment alternatives are the constituents of the city of magnet.
The Peak at Hong Kong Island is one of the most famous attractions in the city. This site is the the best place for spectacular scenes from the city. The city's skyline, Kowloon (one of the four regional divisions of the city; the others are New Territories, Outlying Islands and Hong Kong Island), the world renowned Victoria Harbor and green parts of the city are viewed from this location. By the tram pulled by steel cables, you take a steep journey of 373 meters to the Peak.
At Lantau Island, you will find the world's tallest, outdoor, seated bronze Buddha statue. It takes 268 steps to reach the platform of Buddha. You have to visit this religious, cultural and architectural attraction.
Man Mo Temple at Sheung Wan is one of the oldest and most significant temples in the city. The temple is dedicated to the Civil and Military deities.
Hong Kong Disneyland is another attraction that you should absolutely visit. Composed of mainly four themed lands which are Main Street U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland, this world of fun and adventure will turn your head. Here, you can welcome Mickey Mouse.
Avenue of stars at Kowloon is the reflection of the Hollywood of the East. Here, you will witness the centuries long film history of Hong Kong. The statue of Bruce Lee, the legendary kung-fu star, is one of the impressive elements placed here.
Ocean Park at Aberdeen is both an amusement and marine park. This theme park set up in 1977 is one of the most famous parks in Asia. Beside education, you will find entertainment and animal conservation. At the certain parts of the park, the best views of South China Sea are experienced.
Hong Kong is home to a great deal of museums with rich collections. Situated at the Lei Yue Mun Fort, Museum of Coastal Defence built by British in 1880s has a wealth collection of Hong Kong's military history concerning the last 6 centuries. Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Science Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum are all among the major museums of the city. These exhibitions are placed at Tsim Sha Tsui.
Culture & EntertainmentHong Kong is a city where East and West become a united whole. This harmony is one of the fundamental factors for the availability of an opulent cultural mix in Hong Kong. A plenty of performing arts centers, theater, dance, concerts, film, music, a great range of festivals and the other cultural events constitute the cultural treasury of the city. Hong Kong is the entertainment capital of Asia. Entertainment is one of the major tools of the city promotion.
There are many theaters at the city to be home to sophisticated performances. Hong Kong Repertory Theater built in 1977 is the fundamental professional theater in the city. A repertoire of more than 200 plays including local, foreign plays and modern classics are staged at this theater. Sun Beam Theater, Kho Shan Theater and Kwai Tsing Theater are a few examples from the other major theatrical centers at the city.
City Contemporary Dance Company, Hong Kong Ballet (one of the leading classical ballet companies in the continent), Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra are the major performing companies at the city.
Hong Kong is the events capital of Asia. Hong Kong boasts with its many stars. Throughout the year, many international stars stage concerts in the city. Many festivals are held at the city. Chinese New Year (January/early February), Tin Hau Festival (late April/early May), Dragon Boat Festival (June), Lantern Festival (September or October), Festival of Asian Arts (October or November) and Hong Kong Salsa Festival (February) are among the main festivals held in the city.
Hong Kong is a natural brilliant offering a great range of sport activities. Badminton, soccer, tennis, golf, rugby, horse racing, cricket, squash, dragon boat racing, marathon racing, hiking, swimming and a plenty of more activities are performed at the city.
Karaoke places, bars, discos and night venues are scattered all around the city to offer every kind of night entertainment. Most of the bars and clubs are gathered at the east (Tsim Sha Tsui, Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai). Lan Kwai Fong is the premier nightlife neighborhood.
Food & DrinkHong Kong is a gourmet paradise. If entertainment is the major tool for promoting the city Hong Kong cuisine is the catalyst of this promotion tool. Eastern and Western palates and the culinary flavors provide the essence of the city cuisine. More than 9.000 restaurants offer fresh, tasty and assorted delights accompanied by different ambiances and atmospheres. Seafood is the king of the city cuisine.
The major food districts are Causeway Bay (local cuisine), Kowloon City (Asian cuisine), Lan Kwai Fong & SoHo (world cuisine), Sai Kung, Lamma Island & Lei Yue Mun (seafood), Stanley (seaside palates) and Hung Hom (specialty restaurants).
Tea is the national drink in the city. Chinese, English and Hong Kong style teas are offered at a great deal of teahouses. Also, Chinese wine is so delicious that you should articulately taste.
ShoppingShopping in Hong Kong is a significant type of recreational activity in the daily life. The city's shopping malls, street markets, department stores, designer boutiques and the other shopping centers offer a great range of shopping experiences. Clothing, jewelry, housewares, audio products and electronics are the foremost supplies from the Hong Kong's shopping culture. You can find most of the world famous brands at the malls of the city.
Cityplaza at Tai Koo Shing is one of the Hong Kong's largest shopping centers. A great range of shops and department stores are available here. Stanley Market at Stanley is one of the best places for local crafts. Wan Chai district at Hong Kong Island is the location for fabulous Chinese furnitures. Yau Ma Tei at Kowloon is famous for its street markets. Temple Street Night Market and Jade Market are the popular markets of this area. You will find a great deal of clothes and jewelry shops at these markets.
Architecture That Makes People Happy
Italian architect Benedetta Tagliabue has put her signature on important projects like the Scottish Parliament Building, HafenCity Hamburg, Santa Caterina market, and the Spanish Pavilion at Expo Shanghai 2010. In Istanbul recently, she replied to our questions.
Many of your projects are about transforming industrial areas outside the city into urban centers. Is this a coincidence or a deliberate choice?
Rehabilitation projects are under way all over the world, perhaps a little more even in Europe since Europe is short on space. Also, in the last 50 years industrial sites have taken over almost all the living space in our cities, so it needs to be reincorporated back into life now. Take HafenCity Hamburg, for example; it isn’t just port workers there any more but people going to work as well. Even sunbathers… Many former factories are being socialized by converting them into museums.
Like Tate Modern, Santralistanbul and Istanbul Modern. Industrial plants turned museums. Is this a trend then?
Yes, it’s a trend. There is a very unusual and special example of it in Barcelona: Santa Caterina Market. Barcelona used to be a city with a closed urban texture. But this project, the rehabilitation of a large public space that took ten years, opened it up to the outside world. It taught us - me and my late husband, that is - a lot. First we tried to understand the narrow streets. Then we learned how we had to proceed in an historic venue. Starting from the realization that history is in a constant flux, we wanted to create a space that urban people would be happy to use, so we rebuilt the market, the roof in particular. With the help of Spanish ceramicists, we created a fantastic roof that can be seen from all over the city. It’s a pleasant shopping center and commercial venue now. A powerful bond was also forged between us and Santa Caterina. The project inspired many things in our lives right down to the names of our children. My daughter’s name is Caterina.
What projects do you have in hand at the moment?
There is no end of projects. We have two offices, one in Barcelona and one in Shanghai. We are also building a tower in Hong Kong these days, a somewhat proud tower… And a university in one of Shanghai’s new residential areas but not cut off from the city. We are building a museum for a Chinese painter too. In Spain we are reorganizing a former cloth factory as a museum. We have office buildings in Milan, residences in Madrid. But recently I’ve been occupied mainly with HafenCity Hamburg in Germany.
Do you have any particular sine qua non’s?
There is one thing I always try to do. I try to make the project harmonize with itself and with the surroundings. Without any pushing or shoving… As modest as possible, in harmony with the environment and the world, not altering or playing too much with the landscape. I avoid any solution that might dominate or overwhelm.
Changing things is sometimes good, but only if it is done quietly, without any noise or shouting… Architects can’t save the world, but friendly architecture can ensure that people live a happier, more expansive and more civilized life. Architects should try, through small interventions, to give people better spaces to live and work in. Good architecture is architecture that makes people happier than they used to be and makes them feel good about themselves.
What are your forecasts for the future?
Houses are going to be smaller in the future because the world is getting crowded and resources are being depleted. We are going to have to live in smaller houses. There won’t be any more enormous estates. But there are going to be more public areas. And that is a good thing, because more social sharing means less social conflict.
Barselona / Barcelona
Classy and mad. And fabulous because it is both at once. A city dedicated to people. People go for long walks. At the seaside, in the parks. The city seems to exist so people can walk.
Mysterious and wonderful. Small but huge. Has a powerful history that nevertheless does not fly in your face. Waits unobtrusively to be discovered.
Defies description. As a friend of mine says, Venice makes intelligent people look stupid… if they try to describe it. More like a person than a city.
Capital of a great empire. Harbors a lot of different people within it and is therefore very modern. In fact, is one of the world’s most modern cities for that reason.
A city that has everything you can imagine, where all dreams come true. A city that has seen everything. When a person goes there he says, Okay, now I get it.
City of refinement. The refinement of existence… City of social graces. City of the good life as well as of great restaurants, theater and opera.
The Spanish-Italian Artisan Soul
Born in Milan, Benedetta Tagliabue graduated from the University of Venice in 1989. In 1991 she became a partner in the studio of Enric Miralles, whom she also married. Tagliabue, who has built several award-winning buildings around the world, became head of Miralles-Tagliabue-EMBT following her husband’s untimely death. She has worked on many important projects, among them HafenCity Hamburg public space, the Expo Shanghai 2010 Spanish Pavilion, Hamburg Music School and the Scottish Parliament Building. Perpetuating the tradition of the architecture studio with Spanish-Italian artisan soul, Tagliabue has earned a RIBA International Fellowship for her contributions to architecture.
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