Although there’s no shortage of cold beverages available in the adjacent convenience store, a suitable place to enjoy them post-purchase can be hard to come by. In this case, a bit of creative repurposing in the midst of the Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong’s Jordan neighborhood turns the nearest flat, off-the-street surface into a serviceable table (or bar) for one or two people. What would this look like if this informal space claim were to be formalized by the adjacent Circle K? What if one could order additional drinks or snacks from the store directly to this electrical transformer box? Could you remove anything from this current arrangement and still have it function as an improvised bar? What would you add, if you could, to make it function better in its improvised role?
Sporting a flower, this transformer box is a bit more whimsical than most of its siblings across Hong Kong – becomes a piece of “sympathetic infrastructure.” Simply by placing a few bottles of beer down on top of it, it is opened up to a much broader world of uses. Before, in its more focused and less visible role, it would likely only be noticed by people when it breaks, like Heidegger’s “present-at-hand” broken hammer.
It is a powerful move to turn something that once simply occupied space on the sidewalk into something that generates its own vibrancy and adds to the street’s social life. While I’ve yet to encounter any of their benches “in the wild” , one more intentionally-designed bit of creative repurposing to accomplish this was done in 2018, when Zoey Chan, Jose Fu, Dickwai Lai, and Gary Chang created their “Part(k) of the City” project that turned the grey metal fences that hem in an increasing number of Hong Kong’s sidewalks into street-level seating that can double as a magazine/book rack.
Relatedly, for more examples of sympathetic infra – these coming from a city of 30 million in far western China that you’ve likely never heard of – click onwards. For more examples of some of the diverse lives of transformer boxes (these ones also sporting flowers on their sides), follow this way, to downtown Hanoi.