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A tactical urbanism

Street experiment in Asian high-density cities

Why positive feedback leads to limited long-term changes?

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Project commencement: July 2020

Status: Ongoing

Street experiment is a quick and low-cost way of testing out new urban design changes. It has gained popularity among European and American cities in the recent decade, for its possibility to test out radical urban setting changes. In 2020, Hong Kong also conducted a street experiment in the densely populated neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po, led by a social innovation enterprise, Social Lab.


The project created several street improvement prototypes for the purpose of place-making and improving pedestrian safety. 

How does a multi-lateral co-creation street experiment work in a high-density city? Our research investigates the process, challenges and effectiveness of this experiment. Using semi-structured interviews and non-participatory observations, the researcher drew insights from the program organisers, helpers, governmental officials, and participants. 

The experiment was highly praised by the interviewed participants. Many expressed their willingness to see a quiet street segment being activated as public space, especially during school hours. However, many of the prototypes were unable to actualise as long-term changes potentially for several reasons:

  • The miscommunication between the event organiser and the government on the definition of prototype.

  • Safety-concern raised by the government sector was not sufficiently addressed by the event organiser, which led to the rejection of prototypes.

  • The organisers could not break through the limitation of multi-governmental collaboration when trying to implement some prototypes. As an ongoing study, the aforementioned are preliminary findings that are subject to adjustment. 


How to cite

J. Zhao, R. Chang, G. Sun* (2023). Experiential learning in a street experiment: A case of co-design in Hong Kong. Under review in Journal of Urban Mobility.​

Funded by

RGC/DAAD Germany/ Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme, "Intercultural perspectives for understanding how people experience everyday space and place", G-HKU703/20, 2021.01-2023.01, 90,000 HKD for each side of Hong Kong (Dr Guibo Sun, Jianting Zhao) and Germany collaborators (Dr Rene Westerholt at TU Dortmund)

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