The government recently announced a campaign to beautify the cityscape that includes the repair or removal of at least 1,700 signboards. Signboards are rapidly vanishing from the streets of Hong Kong, due to a new regulation which considered most of the existing signboards as illegal structures. While a validation scheme is in place to assess individual signboards’ worthiness to remain on the streets, the scheme does not take into account the signboards’ historic, cultural and aesthetic values.
The After Seventeen Days project proposes a signboard evaluation system similar to the evaluation of historic buildings, to determine which signboards should stay or go based on a set of criteria. A field of 17 signboards presently hung in the streets around Hong Kong will be enacted in a dark room. During the exhibition period, one signboard will be selected daily for the signboard evaluation system featuring a physical ‘keep or trash’ button on-site and an online questionnaire to record the visitors’ preferences.
Visitors will have their say to decide the fate of every signboard, and signboards destined to disappear will be veiled by a green net at the end of each day – symbolising the signboards’ impending departure. At the finale of deTour 2022, After Seventeen Days will visualise the public’s views on signboard culture and the subject’s perceived value to our city.
Based in Hong Kong, Anthony Ko is an artist, spatial designer and architect registered in the United Kingdom. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Hong Kong in 2014, before obtaining his Master’s degree in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL London in 2017.
Ko then started his design agency Dilemma, working primarily on spatial design, installations and community projects. Using a theoretical approach in his work, he creates compelling manifestos and narratives to describe and highlight the provocative properties of architecture. He also experiments on the topics of place attachment, environmental psychology and cultural preservation.
Inspired by the layers of signboard-streetscapes that defined the iconic sceneries of the streets of Hong Kong, @streetsignhk was founded in 2017 by the architect duo of Kevin Mak and Ken Fung. @streetsignhk promotes signboard-streetscape as an urban cultural heritage by exploring in-depth signboard stories of Hong Kong and building regulations — striving to conserve existing signboards facing demolition whilst cultivating a sustainable signboard culture through design practice.