Duality | 1 // This week's theme is striking contrasts in colours and textures in urban environments, and we begin with today's pink and blue combo from Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O. Hong Kong Housing Authority, the statutory authority responsible for the design of virtually all of Hong Kong's public housing in recent decades, went through a bit of a nadir in terms of creativity in the 1990s~2000s era, plonking down endless virtually identical housing blocks all around town - the infamous + shaped Harmony / Concord block (the two have different internal design features but look largely the same from the outside). It was a winning solution in a sense - such a replicable design surely brought costs down dramatically and allowed estates to be designed and built quickly, with minimal need for further research or development. However, it left parts of Hong Kong developed in this era - and Tseung Kwan O, Tsz Wan Shan, Lam Tin, Tin Shui Wai and Ma On Shan are the New Towns that are particularly notable in this regard - with an endless sea of nearly identical blocks. Great from a photography perspective, but in some ways, I think it also creates a numbing sameness, a sense of non-identity, where one community feels exactly the same as the next.
One thing that the Housing Authority sought to do was to give each of these otherwise identical estates a different paint job - which is a cheap way to confer a distinct identity of sorts. I imagine it is also a practical decision - with housing blocks looking so identical, the distinct colours help with wayfinding on the ground. In most instances, each estate is given its own distinct colour scheme and motifs, although in rare cases, such as Sheung Tak Estate and its associated Home Ownership Scheme developments, different blocks within the estate are painted in different colours, which made this photograph possible. I'm guessing the Housing Authority went with this approach given Sheung Tak Estate is a very large one, with some 15 blocks on one plot of land, so painting all of them the same colour would make it very difficult to distinguish one from the other and defeat the purpose.