USJ Collaborates on Architectural Intervention in Hong Kong's Public Space: Ladder Street Cultural Space





USJ Macao has partnered with CUHK on an innovative architectural intervention project called “Ladder Street Cultural Space.” The project aims to revitalize a public space in Hong Kong’s historic district through a temporary installation.

The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) collaborated with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on an architecture intervention project in the heart of Hong Kong. The project, named “Ladder Street Cultural Space,” opened to the public on May 4, 2024, followed by a series of talks held on May 8.

Ladder Street Cultural Space was located in the Ladder Street Sitting Out Area in Central, one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong. The project aimed to revitalise the urban area and promote alternative social activities through a temporary architectural intervention. The design, conceptualised and led by Francesco Rossini and Filipe Afonso, embraced a distinctive geometry defined by a series of circles, creating a sense of movement and fluidity.

The project offered a flexible layout that encouraged visitors to explore and engage with the space. It featured three key functions: a community library, an exhibition space, and a seating area. The community library, generously stocked with over 200 donated books from the CUHK library, covered a wide range of subjects, including architecture, history, education, and children’s literature. Visitors and local residents were encouraged to participate in the self-management of the library and engage in book swaps.

The exhibition space within the library showcased the “Inbetween” photo exhibition curated by Phoboko. This exhibition explored the social nature of photography through a unique collection of postcards. Visitors were invited to actively participate by selecting their preferred photos from the collection and sending them to friends, transforming the space into an interactive outdoor gallery.

The Ladder Street Cultural Space project was a 1:1 conceptual prototype realized using Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) panels. These panels were precisely shaped using a robotic arm equipped with a spatial hot-wire, ensuring accuracy in translating the project’s complex geometry. The project team, consisting of Zhu Tongyun Terrie, Cassone Thaik, and Graça Santos, worked diligently to fabricate the panels and create a continuous sequence of holes and setbacks, providing unique spaces for books and exhibition displays.

The project was made possible by the support of the Research Grant Council and through collaborations with the School of Architecture at CUHK, the Department of Architecture and Design of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at USJ Macao, the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library, Phoboko, and Very Hong Kong.

The Ladder Street Cultural Space project represented a significant milestone in promoting creativity, community engagement, and urban revitalization. The University of Saint Joseph was excited to contribute to the cultural and architectural landscape of Hong Kong, and the event was graced by the presence of the Vice-Rector of USJ, Prof. Alvaro Barbosa, and the Head of the Department of Architecture and Design, Prof. and Arch. Nuno Soares.

Photos by Wilson Kam