This is an Advanced Design Studio by Prof. Peter W. Ferretto, connected to the Masters in Architecture program at CUHK.

The aim of the Studio is to rethink the meaning of rural villages in Hong Kong and make a series of propositional projects that could suggest different future rather than see this rich heritage disappear and forgotten.

1st Semester Final Review
3 December 2020

1st Progress Review

22 October 2020

︎ More Details

︎ Condition_Lab
︎ Facebook
︎ Instagram

01 Spatial Study

Knowledge & Social Order

The history of Hang Mei Tsuen dates back to the Song Dynasty. Ancestors of the Tang Clan, one of major clans in the New Territories settled in Ping Shan area in the 12th century, established several Wai (walled villages) and Tsuen (villages). Having Ping Shan mountain at its’ back and stream of water in the front, the location of Hang Mei Tsuen was considered to have good fengshui. The Tang Clan slowly claimed the nature blessed area and built up the clan’s territory, with boundaries vaguely defined by topography.

The Tang Clan built numerous traditional Chinese buildings in Hang Mei Tsuen, which can still be found today, including ancestral halls, temples, study halls and pagoda for ancestral worship, clan gathering and education. Noticeably, the education and achievement of young clansmen are proved importance by distinguished design details of study halls and clear records of prominent appointment from the government. To the West of Hang Mei Tsuen is Sheung Cheung Wai, a traditional walled village with symmetrical layout established by a line of the Tang Clan 200 years ago.
In 1980s when the Hong Kong government developed Tin Shui Wai New Town, huge area of wetland and fishponds had to be reclaimed. Railway and roads were built in respond to the increasing demands of new residentials. Hang Mei Tsuen being only one road across from the New Town, was gradually enclosed by these modern infrastructure. Agricultural land was greatly reduced. None of the village's agricultural past can be retraced now, ample land in front of the it only serves as car park. Many of the traditional single-storey village houses were also replaced by multi-storey concrete houses.

Despite all these changes the Tang Clan is still closely tied today. The front yard of ancestral halls serves as important gathering space for villagers to celebrate traditional festivals like Chinese New Year or special occasions such as a clanman's wedding. Spring banquets and poon choi feasts are held regularly to boost the sense of togetherness within the Clan. The Tang Clan also take pride in their traditional culture that they supported the government to set up a Ping Shan Heritage Trail which leads the public to various heritage sites. Keeping up the traditions across generations has formed an invisible though strong territory in the village.

Forming the Invisible Territory

Although the villagers of Hang Mei Village will still celebrate with their traditions during the festival, visitors are free to stroll around the village and have the opportunity to participate. However, some of the disappearing conditions and culture of Hang Mei Village make it seem that an invisible territory has formed between the village and outsiders.

Disappeared Agriculture -
Hang Mei Village had 320 acres of farmland and produced a lot of rice, sweet potatoes and sugar cane every year. Villagers believe that farming in front of the ancestral hall show respect for food and symbolizes a good harvest. They have memories of playing in ponds and fields, which are now replaced by parking lots.

Nowdays, villagers still like to conduct food-related activities in front of the ancestral hall to show respect and reputation. They make and sell traditional food, salty bone porridge, herbal tea, roast pig, peanut candy.

Disappeared School Form -
Tang has always attached great importance to family fame and education. In the past, every ancestral hall in the village had the function of respecting ancestors and schools. The open space in front of the ancestral hall was also used as a playground for students to rest.

All the preserved ancient buildings in Hang Mei Village are related to education. The decoration in the hall is related to the Tang’s reputation. For example, the red road means that ancestors got good grades and served as officials in the court.

Disappeared “Enemy” -
In the Qing Dynasty, enemies who fled to the New Territories would rob residents of their supplies, and villagers built thick fortresses to protect their houses into Wai. Wai’s architectural form was very popular at the time.

The enemy has disappeared but the villagers are unwilling to come out of the Wai and forbid outsiders to enter and disturb their lives. The thick walls seem to guard their adherence to tradition.

Disappeared Water and Wetland -
The Tsui Tsing was built in the north of the village, next to the waterfront. At that time, this Feng Shui layout brought fortunate to the Tang family.

After the wetland is replaced by tall building in Tin Shui Wai and the railway station, the tower is like a junction between modern and tradition.

︎T2 Hang Mei   
︎02 Material Study

︎︎︎ Territories