manuel alvarez diestro explores the dynamic interplay of hong kong's old and new structures

manuel alvarez diestro explores the dynamic interplay of hong kong's old and new structures

Manuel Alvarez Diestro delves into Hong Kong’s Urban Landscape

 

Exploring the dynamic visual narratives of Hong Kong through his lens, Spanish photographer Manuel Alvarez Diestro delves into the city’s evolving urban landscape. Commencing his exploration of Hong Kong’s urban territory during the historic handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, Alvarez Diestro develops an intriguing photo series, ‘The Obsolescence and Agony of Hong Kong’s Older Structures.’ This collection forms part of a broader body of work, which includes portrayals of Hong Kong’s cemeteries and films such as ‘Trains Bound for the Sea’ and ‘Displacements,’ both set against the backdrop of the bustling city.

 

As Hong Kong’s skyline undergoes a transformation defined by new residential towers, a contentious campaign unfolds to clear streets of neon signs and billboards in an effort to sanitize the city. Amidst this evolution, the artist turns his focus to the often overlooked high-density residential buildings from the 60s and other obsolete industrial structures that linger in the densely packed urban fabric. Navigating districts like Tsuen Wan, Mongkok, Aberdeen, and Quarry Bay, Alvarez Diestro’s photography captures the poignant juxtaposition of Hong Kong’s past structures with the encroaching influence of contemporary architecture.

the obsolescence and agony of hong kongs older structures 4
monster building built in the 60s in Quarry Bay, Victoria Island | all images by Manuel Alvarez Diestro

 

 

photo series captures the Dynamic Interplay of Past and Present

 

This visual tension between the old buildings of the 50s and 60s, and the emerging new towers defines Hong Kong as a city where historical and modern structures coexist in a melting urban pot. This unique characteristic sets Hong Kong apart from other cities in the nearby Pearl Delta River Economic zone, such as Zhuhai and Shenzhen, where the old makes way for the new. Alvarez Diestro contends that preserving these older structures is crucial for maintaining Hong Kong’s distinct character, much like the iconic ferries connecting Victoria Island with Kowloon or the charming double-decker tramways.

 

In terms of composition and execution, Alvarez Diestro infuses his photographic series with a cinematic tone, evoking existential angst as buildings’ facades appear weathered and oxidized—an artistic lament to endure. His keen focus on architectural qualities, characterized by the repetition of design patterns and a love for the horror vacui, results in a powerful collection that radically juxtaposes Hong Kong’s new towers against the old ones, creating a visual dialogue between present and past on a scale rarely witnessed elsewhere.

manuel alvarez diestro explores the dynamic interplay of hong kong's old and new structures
two buildings framing new tower in Tsuen Wan, Northwest Kowloon

manuel alvarez diestro explores the dynamic interplay of hong kong's old and new structures
Fortress Hill, Victoria Island

manuel alvarez diestro explores the dynamic interplay of hong kong's old and new structures
old buildings against new developments in Kowloon

manuel alvarez diestro explores the dynamic interplay of hong kong's old and new structures
old buildings near Kai Tak

manuel-alvarez-diestro-photo-series-hong-kong-designboom-1800-3

industrial buildings next to Kwai Chung Park, Northwest Kowloon

manuel alvarez diestro explores the dynamic interplay of hong kong's old and new structures
Fortress Hill, Victoria Island

manuel-alvarez-diestro-photo-series-hong-kong-designboom-1800-1

industrial buildings near the waterfront

 

1/5
old building against new towers in Kowloon
old building against new towers in Kowloon
old structure against new towers in Quarry Bay, Victoria Island
old structure against new towers in Quarry Bay, Victoria Island
old building against new one in construction in Mong-Kok, Kowloon
old building against new one in construction in Mong-Kok, Kowloon
industrial buildings next to Yau Tong
industrial buildings next to Yau Tong
Aberdeen, VIctoria Island
Aberdeen, VIctoria Island

project info:

 

name: The Obsolescence and Agony of Hong-kong’s Older Structures

photography: Manuel Alvarez Diestro | @m.a.diestro

 

 

designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: christina vergopoulou | designboom

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