Helen Westerman recently returned from a study abroad program with professor Henri de Hahn and a group of architecture students of all years. They were privileged with the opportunity to adventure to, through, up, down, and around the island of Hong Kong for five days of immersive study and shenanigans.
We went everywhere from the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, to the Asia Society Hong Kong Center designed by Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, to The Peak where my mother actually gave birth to my older sister, and so on. Jet lag led to early mornings in the park across from our luxury hotel (the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in) silently watching all the people who had come to practice tai chi with awe.
The entire trip was absolutely overwhelming. It’s still sinking in, but what I experienced most throughout was the impact of people as a whole. Their cultural norms and traditions shaped the city of Hong Kong. Most obvious was their sense of community and willingness to share space. In contrast to places like NYC, almost all storefronts on street level were open and whole districts of people selling the same goods sprawled into the streets to form well-established markets for birds, flowers, clothing and the like.
These photos are a respectful testament and the beginnings of documenting some of the places I was able to experience through the people I saw.
Photos and Words by Helen Westerman