Walter Koditek is a German urban planner, author and photographer based in Hong Kong. After graduating at Technical University Berlin, Walter's first professional life had him practicing for almost two decades at various planning/design consultancies and teaching at university.Read More
In 2006, he relocated to Asia, where he worked as an urban planning expert in Cambodia and Vietnam. He moved on to Hong Kong in 2014, using the city as a base for his consultant work, and documenting its unique architectural landscape with his camera whenever possible. Walter has always been a strong advocate of cultural heritage conservation. He published the photo book Battambang Heritage (2018, Apsara Books, Hong Kong) and co-authored the Architectural Guide Phnom Penh (2020, DOM Publishers, Berlin), before focusing on the modernist architectural legacy of Hong Kong.
His Book and exhibition Hong Kong Modern Architecture of the 1950s-1970s is a thematic exploration of post-war modern architecture based on Walter Koditek's book of the same title at Blue Lotus Gallery. By combining photography and research, Koditek creates a comprehensive overview of architectural design during that transformative period.
In the post-war decades, Hong Kong architects, many of them having migrated from China or studied overseas, embraced modern principles when forced to face the problems of housing shortage, mass construction and limited budgets in the British colony. Although economic efficiencies often prevailed over design, their buildings were rooted in their time and place, reflecting the local climate, social values, materials, technique and use in an often unique and pragmatic fashion.
As Koditek documents and captures building facades for this project, he invites us to notice the different designs stemming from the international Modern Movement and how it has been adapted to suit local needs and conditions. Each facade, uniformly framed and composed, draws our attention to architectural details that are often overlooked, as well as the variety of appropriations that transformed their modern characters over time. The arrangement of facades, ranging from famous landmarks to mundane structures that dominate Hong Kong's cityscape, presents an underlying relationship between these built forms.
With his exhibition and book, Koditek's project not only serves as a visually compelling record of modernist architectural heritage found in the city, but also as a reminder and call to buildings that are on the verge of disappearance or redevelopment.
Text courtesy Blue Lotus Gallery.