By Us, For Us: Atlas and Forum for Hong Kong Housing Cooperatives

There was a period in Hong Kong when the public had a stake in the formation of the urban settlement. This extended from the apartment to the yard, street front, block, and collective neighborhood.

There was a period in Hong Kong when the public had a stake in the formation of the urban settlement. This extended from the apartment to the yard, street front, block, and collective neighborhood.

Today, the remnants of this experiment, the Civil Servant Building Societies, are on the verge of disappearance despite being increasingly relevant as housing becomes more inaccessible, unaffordable, and individualized around the world.

By Us, For Us is a public forum on the history, current problematic, and potential future of housing cooperatives in Hong Kong. In support of the forum, the project will produce a publication, the CBS Estates Atlas, along with a Federative Drawing in order to further distill and disseminate the project. This is the first phase of the larger By Us For Us initiative to establish an action plan to reinstate cooperative housing in the city’s future.

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Grantee: Guillaume Othenin-Girard and Kent Mundle

Guillaume Othenin-Girard is an architect and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. His research and teaching explore the transformative role of drawing in investigations of the relationship between territory and architecture; relations between making and the material flows that link human and nonhuman actors; design-build as an action comprising both material intervention and shared experience. He is interested in collaborative approaches to inquiry and making that bring architecture into a constant relation with culture. In this spirit, he co-founded Architecture Land Initiative, a cooperative based in Switzerland that carries out political action through projects in the areas of landscape, public space and architecture. His work has appeared in publication such as archithese, DETAIL, Drawing Matter, Tracés, Tec21 and exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Artgeneve, the Swiss Art Awards and the Design Museum London.

Kent Mundle is an assistant lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, and an architect / researcher with the design collaborative District Development Unit. His work focuses on developing housing typologies with alternative models of ownership and living in a variety of contexts from Mongolia to Nepal and Burkina Faso. His work has appeared in publications such as Wallpaper, Noja Magazine, Canadian Architect and exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale and Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. He is also the director of a small publishing company, Open City Design Institute Press (OCDI Press), through which he has edited multiple books on emergent forms of housing.

Organisation: ALIN

Architecture Land Initiative (ALIN) is a cooperative based in Switzerland. ALIN is a nonprofit common-benefit platform. They believe that architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism must strive for new and inclusive planning processes supporting the transformation and re-construction of everyone’s milieus. They seek to address the systemic challenges posed by the current climate crisis, rapid urbanisation and the threat of ecosystem collapse. By bringing together a changing number of contributors with shared values and work ethos, ALIN, as a collective, generates projects for the land and the city as architectures of contribution.

The platform operates as a flexible infrastructure. It consists of a cooperative legal framework, a communication structure enabling collective work, a series of studios, as well as a set of tools and expertise consolidated in practice and made available to all. Its members – both practitioners and researchers – are connected to various research and teaching institutions in Switzerland and internationally (UZH, EPFL, HKU).