Hong Kong’s mesmerizing ‘cocoon’ buildings

Written by Oscar Holland, CNNHong Kong

Enveloped in sheets of blue, inexperienced and yellow, the towers in Peter Steinhauer’s images possess an nearly sculptural high quality. These short-term facades might serve a sensible goal, however their vibrant colours and geometric surfaces produce a mesmerizing distinction with the encompassing skyline.

The sight of buildings draped in shiny nylon mesh is a typical one in Hong Kong. Building firms use the material to maintain particles from falling to the bottom. Staff additionally proceed to make use of bamboo scaffolding, which serves as a body for the colourful wraps.

American photographer Peter Steinhauer has been documenting these building websites for greater than 20 years. He refers to them as “cocoons,” alluding to the metamorphosis that buildings bear whereas enclosed.

Steinhauer’s diversified compositions provide a brand new perspective on one of many world’s most photogenic cities — atmospheric nighttime pictures, broad photos of the city context and close-ups exhibiting the nylon sheets rippling within the wind.

“I prefer to get in shut and discover the graphic components, he stated in a cellphone interview. “In the event you have a look at the bamboo because it’s going up, there is a sample and design to it. So there are all types of design components and coloration schemes that every one interaction with each other.”

Steinhauer stated his fascination with the phenomenon occurred “instantaneously” upon first touchdown in Hong Kong in 1994.

“I used to be stood in a taxi queue (on the airport) simply gazing this factor,” he recalled of seeing a tower block encased in yellow sheets.

“It was the tip of the day, and the sunshine was hitting it at this nice angle. It is all the time model new materials, so there have been these vibrant, lovely colours. It was simply gorgeous, and I assumed it was like a large murals.”

Nearly 13 years after taking his first batch of pictures, Steinhauer returned to Hong Kong full-time and resumed his mission. Having initially photographed in black and white, he determined to modify format with a view to seize the topics’ shiny coloration. 

“I all the time gravitated towards the colour,” he stated. “Hong Kong could be a very monochromatic metropolis. The humidity and air pollution actually wears the paint down and mutes all the things. However while you put up this enormous blue, inexperienced or white factor in the course of all of it, it simply pops out — it jumps off the web page.”

Preserving Hong Kong’s previous within the miniature

Regardless of how enticing they seem from afar, the material facades disguise a grimy, dusty actuality. Steinhauer is aware of this solely too properly, having himself been “cocooned” when his house constructing underwent renovation.

“I hated it,” he admitted. “There was jackhammering, and the children had been crying the entire time — we weren’t getting any sleep. We had inexperienced materials round our home windows and, as a result of we often had solar coming in by way of the home windows, this inexperienced gentle was permeating our lounge and bed room in any respect hours of the day.

“There are only some of my pictures the place I truly present what’s occurring at floor degree — as a result of it is a mess. It is a building website.”

Nonetheless, he retains a way of marvel at a follow that, he stated, is documented in pictures of Hong Kong stretching again greater than 150 years.

“It is a true artwork kind to me — one that’s actually solely practiced in Hong Kong, on this scale particularly,” he stated. “It is a outstanding course of.”

Cocoons,” printed by Powerhouse Books, is obtainable now.

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