The Square and the Big Tree in Lo Uk Tsuen Village
On 24 January 2013, I was standing under a big tree on a little square in Lo Uk Tsuen (羅屋村). Its trunk was protected by a small circular stone wall and in front of it, yet still under its crown, incense was burning in a small matching stone censer. A few kids were playing, a lady was doing her laundry, and several persons passed by. It looked like the heart of one of the villages or ‘tsuens’ of Hung Shui Kiu. It also acted as its entrance as it was positioned at its edge. The houses around were extended with all kinds of annexes and extra levels. On the streets, residents appropriated space with pot plants and a variety of other things. The density was clearly quite high and the urban space felt like a living room. An old-school figure ground analyses wouldn’t give us much open space. When I walked beyond the tree, street-like corridors led me to the next tsuen. Here in Tung Tau (東頭村), built structures and urban spaces more or less looked the same, but a small monumental temple place had adopted the communal role. People sitting under a line of trees aside looked at me with questioning eyes. They scanned who I was and why on earth my students and I were making pictures of this space. Walking out again, I faced huge piles of containers, rusty remaining relics of Modern society. At its backcloth the residential high-rise of Tin Shui Wai.