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Hong Kong Ground

Keywords: #hongKong #development #landscapeArchitecture #conservation #gis #topography #topology #geostatisticalAnalysis #discontinuity #surface
Democracy by Numbers


This interactive map shows the spatial complexity of ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations in Admiralty and Central, Hong Kong on October 1st, 2014. Admiralty is one of three major areas of the city with immense concentrations of demonstrators.

Admiralty demonstration map

Hong Kong Ground: Parametric approaches to discontinuous surface creation


The interactive map above presents initial trials of methods that can enable designers parametric and categorical control over complex surfaces, point clouds, and heavy data, from site-scale manipulations to the projective visualization of entire territories and land mosaics. The test site is a 27-square-kilometer area of Hong Kong Island that contains a representative sample of the territory's "features," including forested mountainsides, cascading artificial slopes and superimposed public grounds. The model is 100% interpolated from spot elevations, non-urban contours, and two-dimensional feature data.

Hong Kong commissioned a territory-wide LIDAR survey by air in 2010. In Lai's 2012 report[1], classification of "ground" and "non-ground" was found difficult, citing "complex landforms." The paper's noted applications are largely restricted to non-urban areas, likely due to the dense shadowing in the city's streets and alleyways. Hong Kong Ground presents a model of Hong Kong that is not the 1:1 representation of reality that a LIDAR point cloud approaches but instead a model of crisp, infinite lines much closer to the way architects currently conceive, describe and represent their projects. The method uses a 100% procedural and automated workflow to "reverse-engineer" the Lands Department's two-dimensional B1000 tiles into a ten-centimeter-resolution 3D model of the Hong Kong Island ground plane. Production is systematized towards a direct input-to-output relationship, while narrating the difficultly of systemic automation and its limits in a city with such complex physical and cognitive geography.

The work sets an early framework for the use of tessellated space, and its plethora of manipulations over both functional (mathematical) and heavy, discontinuous and highly idiosyncratic spatial data, a key place in the parametric project. Central to these methods are the ability to work with non-Euclidian spatial relationships and localized (not "world-aware") operations, which are near impossible to accomplish in the industry's typical vector-based environments. It argues for the use of GIS equally for both regional and site-scale works, with broad implications both methodologically and pedagogically for 3D digital spatial design. Given the complexity of Hong Kong's urban topography, one that even limits the most advanced LIDAR methods, modeling a large section of the ground plane presents innumerable challenges. These struggles are taken as opportunity where the account oscillates between concepts and important yet highly technical examples that proof them. Resolution, fuzzy logic, and the fragility of such a design workflow are central tenants of a project that works simultaneously between line-based geometry and an abstract geostatistical environment.

[1] Lai, A. C., So, A. C., Nga, S. K., & Jonas, D. (2011). The Territory-Wide Airborne Light Detection And Ranging Survey for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Paper presented at the The 33rd Asian Conference on Remote Sensing, Hong Kong.

Map Context

Served using Leaflet, a JS library for interactive maps.

Hong Kong Ground