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Floating Fields-Thomas Chung School of Architecture,The Chinese University of Hong Kong

2015.11.19

Floating Fields is premised on a vision for ‘Re-Living The City’, speculating on a place-based bio-social urbanism. It aspires to an alternative, organic living based on reinvigorating post-industrial architecture and public space with a productive edible landscape, by revives the roots of the polyculture ecology (multiple agri + aqua-cultures) that once defined the unique territorial landform of the Pearl River Delta. 

Inhabitants of the low-lying, flood-prone, delta landscape fused agriculture including silkworm and fish cultivation with inventive eco-engineering to evolve the Mulberry-dyke Fish-pond, one of the most celebrated examples of such intensive eco-agriculture engendering a flourishing water-based commerce. This year’s biennale venue, the former Da Cheng Flour Factory, is a product of Shenzhen’s rapid urbanization, a monumental effort that covered overnight the centuries-old wetland polycultures with concrete and industry to fabricate the instant flotation of the expectant metropolis. The obsolete factory, now cracking up to allow sunlight and overgrown wild blossoms to seep through to the water underground, testifies to the enduring resilience of nature. 

Floating Fields resuscitates the lifeless site. Concrete ground is broken up to form large connected ponds for edible fish. The presence of an existing covered waterway is revealed by a filtering corridor of varied water-cleansing plants and grasses for fish feed. A complete water cycle is created:

a contemporary version of the dyke-pond cultivation is combined with low-tech aquaponics; a life-giving waterway inspires the filtering corridor, mulberry trees are grown to feed cocoon-spinning silkworms inside a pavilion; while colourful algae is expertly cultivated and harvested to enhance the water purification and produce fish feed. The notion of floating plot is tested out as light-weight, mobile farming plots on different horizons, on water-bodies, filling pavilion roofs or on top of buildings. A self-sustaining ecology is developed to demonstrate a virtuous cycle of hybrid urban-agricultural environment that can also become at once a productive and leisure public space for enjoyment of all.

Returning to fundamental urban re-living, disbanding excessive construction, and resuming a symbiotic space for nature, Floating Fields hopes to cultivate comforting nourishment amidst the restlessness of our buoyant city.

Concept + Design Thomas Chung

School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong 

Executive Partner  Chi Fai Fung

Farming Consultant, Founding Member, SEED (HK) 

Project + Research,Sophia Au, Jun Kobayashi, Joshua Lam, Ng Kai Hong, Siu Man, Sylvia Siu,Wong Ming Chiu

Collaborators,Microalgae Research Team, The Open University of Hong Kong

Prof. HO Kin Chung (Dean, School of Science & Technology, OUHK),

Mr. WONG Yee Keung (Assistant Lecturer, OUHK),

Mr. LEUNG Chi Chung (Research Assistant, OUHK),

CHAN Ka Kwan, CHEN Jun Jie, CHEUNG Ka Yau, HO Ting Hong,

LEE Yiu Lun, TSE Chun Yiu, YIU Kui Fan