Publication: The attendance of the contemporary New Babylon

The objective of our analysis approach is highlighting the expressive spatial qualities of some of the key high-rise buildings of Hong Kong by visualizing their architectural appearance comprehensible for our perception and imagination as much as possible. For this purpose, we refer phenomenologically to Aldo Rossi’s understanding of analogy. According to Rossi, one of the key aspects of analogical approach is to detect hidden ‘relation(s) between reality and imagination’[1] by visual montage.[2] ‘Simultaneously analytic and synthetic, montage provides a way to isolate theoretical categories and formal examples from the mass of material, then produce new insight by making connections between things otherwise different.’[3]

In line with Rossi’s analogical way of thinking, axonometric drawings and a three dimensional models of a couple of elevated nodes of Hong Kong’s urban network have been made. ‘The density, connectivity, and redundancy of these nodes generate new forms of public space that, to function, require nether the images of classical European or Chinses urbanity to signify a street, a courtyard, a square, nor the underlying guarantees they suggest.’[4] They are mainly consist of systems of interlinked continuous publicly accessible passageways coalesce in three dimensions connecting malls, piers, underground rail stations, bus terminals, and a great variety of commercial driven entertainment facilities, and creating an hyper-artificial atmosphere of leisure, pleasure and desire. The analysis is especially focusing on the three dimensional spatial conditions of this hyper-artificial world. The images of drawings and models will (hopefully) visualize – for anyone interested – besides the spatial similarities between Constant’s imaginary world of New Babylon and Hong Kong’s contemporary reality, the astonishing discontinuity between architectural forms and their assumed representations of ideological systems.[5]

[1] Rossi, Alto (1976), The analogous city

[2] La citta analoga, montage by Aldo Rossi, 1976


[4] Solomon, Jonathan D., ‘Hong Kong – Aformal Urbanism’, in Shaping the City Studies in History, Theory and Urban Design, p.110

[5] Ideology is a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.