21 May 2019
30 August 2016
CUHK Organises “Magic Carpet: Re-envisioning Community Space in To Kwa Wan”
A Street Cinema for Everyone at Mid-Autumn Festival

Transforming community space with a carpet and a screen. Hung Fook Street in To Kwa Wan will be turned into an outdoor cinema for one evening on 17 September 2016, Saturday. Local residents and the general public are invited to enjoy movies made by local secondary school students about the neighbourhood, under the “full moon”, and  re-imagine the public space of one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong, which might soon disappear due to urban redevelopment. 

“Magic Carpet: Re-envisioning Community Space in To Kwa Wan” is initiated by the School of Architecture and the School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), as an outreach project combining the documentation of daily life, community engagement and urban design. From December 2015 to June 2016, the project team visited Heep Yunn School, a long-established secondary school in To Kwa Wan, and conducted a series of guided tours and video workshops with 26 teenage students. The guided tours, organised in collaboration with House of To Kwa Wan Stories (ToHome) and Caritas Community Centre – Kowloon, informed the students of the district’s history and current situation, such as urban redevelopment, sub-divided flats and rooftop settlements, and introduced them to ethnic minority groups living in the neighbourhood. The video workshops then equipped the students with skills for conducting video interviews with community members. Over the summer, the participating students left their classroom and interviewed people from all walks of life in To Kwa Wan, capturing their life stories, views on the district’s redevelopment, and ideas as to how the district could change for the better. The students are currently editing their videos to be shown at the “Magic Carpet” open cinema on 17 September.

The CUHK team has been researching To Kwa Wan’s community and urban environment since 2015. A mixed residential-industrial district in central Kowloon, To Kwa Wan has undergone drastic changes in recent years, due to urban renewal and major infrastructure projects (for example, the MTR’s Shatin to Central Link is expected to be opened in 2019). Despite its central location, To Kwa Wan is less developed than the other parts of Kowloon accessible by the MTR. Most residential dwellings in the area are mid-rises of 10 or fewer floors built in the mid-20th century. In a way, To Kwa Wan manages to retain its local qualities, with more affordable flats for senior citizens and ethnic minorities to live in. 

Poor building conditions and ageing structures in the district, however, alarmed the public when an old building on Ma Tau Kok Road collapsed and killed four people in 2010. This presented an ideal opportunity for developers to acquire older structures in To Kwa Wan to build profitable apartments. Consequently, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announced in 2014 that a number of buildings on Ma Tau Wai Road, Hok Yuen Street and Chun Tin Street would be redeveloped by 2018-19. Earlier this year, the URA commenced one of its largest redevelopment projects in the area, covering Bailey Street, Wing Kwong Street, Hung Fook Street, Ngan Hon Street and Kai Ming Street. While To Kwa Wan will be made much more accessible by the new MTR line, soaring rents and property prices will drive out long-standing businesses and communities at the same time.

Through their participation in the “Magic Carpet” event, local residents and the public can enjoy their community space and generate discussions in the face of urban redevelopment, through the community voices captured by our eight video interviews. The “Magic Carpet” outdoor cinema will be held on Hung Fook Street, one of the affected areas in the URA’s latest project. A part of the street has no traffic and has been used by local residents for community activities. It houses a number of local businesses and ToHome, one of our project partners and an NGO dedicated to community building in To Kwa Wan. 

“Magic Carpet: Re-envisioning Community Space in To Kwa Wan” is supported by the Quality Education Fund. Since 2013, “Magic Carpet” has been successfully held in Sai Ying Pun, an old inner-city district on Hong Kong Island, and in Tin Shui Wai, a stigmatised new town in the northwest New Territories. The event also includes other activities, such as lantern and cushion making workshops, storytelling performances and a community kitchen. Its festive atmosphere celebrates the unique character of To Kwa Wan, cultivating a stronger sense of belonging to the old district at a time of change. 

Magic Carpet: Re-envisioning Community Space in To Kwa Wan


17 September 2016, Saturday


Hung Fook Street, To Kwa Wan


“Re-envisioning Workshop”: activities include lantern making, cushion making, storytelling, and community kitchen – 16:00 pm - 22:00 pm
Moonlight Cinema – 18:30 pm - 22:00 pm

*Free admission. No registration required

CUHK Project Team:
Prof. Hendrik Tieben, Project Initiator, Associate Professor, School of Architecture
Prof. Anthony Fung, Project Initiator, Director, School of Journalism and Communication
Miss Yuisze Wong, Project Manager, Research Assistant, School of Architecture
Miss Janice Leung, Content Editor, Research Associate, School of Architecture
Students of M.Sc. in Urban Design, School of Architecture

Project Partners:
Heep Yunn School
House of To Kwa Wan Stories (ToHome) 

Project Website: www.magiccarpet.hk/tokwawan 

Work-in-progress videos:
(1) Goteborg Restaurant:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7ItTW5bznSTSmFtQ2gtLU5BaEk/view
(2) Balloons of Hope: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7tmMjB2SGzLcUpTaEVfNkxKNjQ/view 

The “Magic Carpet” moonlight cinema is envisaged to be staged on Hung Fook Street, To Kwa Wan, at the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival.

Guided tour on urban redevelopment led by ToHome, an NGO dedicated to community building in To Kwa Wan.

Video production workshop by artist and video journalist Kenji Wong.

Two participating students conduct a video interview outside the classroom.