Lead Architect: Manfred Yuen
Engineering: Chow Wan-Ki, Edgar Pang, Ho Siu Lau, Edward Lo
Collaborators: Alexander Wai Ping-Kong; Chi Yuen, Leung; Choi Ka Yi; Hinz Pak; Kacey Wong; Patrick Wong
Text description provided by the architects. Hawker Reload is an ongoing project where we have embarked on a journey to understand Pai-dongs, Hong Kong’s unique heritage and to provide design solutions for hawker stands in Hong Kong. The prime objective of Hawker Reload is to suggest how the design of future hawker stalls may develop and how future designs should respond to the suggestions on hawker stalls fire safety made by the Hong Kong Government in 2012 in the aftermath of the Fa Yuen Street fire that claimed 10 lives on November 2011.
Street market has been an important part of our urban culture, local economy, and social infrastructure in Hong Kong. Pai-dongs existed since the 1930s, before World War II, however this unique culture is being threatened after the big fire in 2011 that claimed 10 lives. This is a cross disciplinary project, with different people of different education backgrounds coming together to work on a social project, uniting an unusual collection of engineers, architects, brand builders and social scientists!
The name Hawker Reload was chosen specifically for this project because it encapsulates the essence of this mission. To revitalize and restore one of Hong Kong’s most significant civic symbols. On November 2011, a fire broke-out during one quiet evening at Fa Yuen street; one of Hong Kong most prominent street markets. This fire claimed 10 lives. Instead of improving the fire integrity of the hawker stalls that formed street markets, the Hong Kong Government contemplated on eradicating all street markets in Hong Kong. Our team aimed to investigate on how street markets and hawker stalls may still serve as tourist attractions hence serving public.
We have visited each of the 223 hawker stalls along Fa Yuen Street and have explained to each of the hawker our intention. We have selected sixteen hawker stalls for more thorough interviews and we have conducted much more thorough measured drawings of their stalls. Each of these selected hawker stalls are photographed with standardized distances, viewing angles, camera and weather conditions, such that we may analysis the hawker stall typologies by fair comparison. These photographs are not only valuable to the project but they may also serve as the record of a fragment of our unique heritage.
Through-out our site survey, we have realized the importance of acquiring the full understanding of the hawker activities along Fa Yuen Street before we may propose a new design for the hawkers. We are not designing for the an individual but a group of people, and this is the reason why we must collate the opinion from as many target users as possible. It is worth noting that we spent eight months of our project period on public engagements and data collection and only three months on finalizing a design resolution.
We have had meetings, presentations, interviews with the trade union leaders, hawkers’ representatives, the Government’s Food and Hygiene Bureau representatives; collecting opinions and views first handedly. We have also set up a paper stall on Fa Yuen Street to collection ad-hoc opinion from the locals. Every different hawker and their trade would require a unique display system of goods that is specific to their needs, which explain why a universally adaptable “prototype” hawker stall is highly idealized.
To improve the business operating environment for the operators, we focused on offering different goods’ display systems. We have provided a matrix of designs that will be responding to three different site conditions and three typologies. Each hawker stall can divided into 3 parts: the top, the body and the shelves. Hawker may choose from the 4 types of body and shelves that best fit their stall’s situation. Another top made of corrugated metal is fixed on existing tops with two sliding tracks. This simple connection allows the retractable top to be easily extended and retracted.
According to our research, the average age of hawkers is 65 and above. The process of setting up their stalls used to take 60 minutes. With our new improvements to ease the “popping and packing” pain for the aging and physically weak hawkers, setup time now has been reduced to mere 15 minutes!. The weight of the structure and detachable doors are much heavier thus our new design systems will minimize the number of detachable doors. Doors are mostly hinged and additional support for the doors are provide by castors. Thus, unfolding these doors will be effortless.
Display shelves and tables are separate entities and they could be wheeled into the parent structure entirely. We gave the design to the contractor and hawkers directly. Our design allows hawkers to appropriate and customize the stalls according to their display and ergonomic needs. Our new designs see that each hawker stall is built with 1.5mm galvanized steel sheets. After several extensive fire tests, they proved to be successful in delaying the spread of fire.