Spatial practice, conceived space and lived space: Hong Kong's 'Piers saga' through the Lefebvrian lens

Mee Kam Ng, Wing Shing TANG, Joanna Lee, Darwin Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


By applying the Lefebvrian lens, this paper tries to understand why unlike previous similar cases, the latest removal of the Star Ferry and Queen's Pier was so controversial. To Lefebvre, embedded in 'spatial practices' that 'secrete' a place are two contradicting spaces: 'conceived spaces' produced by planners to create exchange values and 'lived spaces' appropriated by citizens for use values. Applying Lefebvre's framework to examine the 'Piers saga', it is found that the pre-Second World War (WWII) piers were 'conceived' by spatial practices of a colonial and racially segregated trading enclave. The public space in the commercial heart that housed the previous generations of piers was not accessible to the Chinese community, thus denying them opportunities to appropriate them and turn them into 'lived' spaces. It was only after WWII when the Government carried out further reclamation to meet the needs of an industrializing economy that inclusive public spaces were conceived in the commercial heart, enabling the general public to 'appropriate' them as 'lived' space. When the Government planned to remove this very first 'lived' space in the political and economic heart of the city to conceive further reclamation for the restructuring economy, the more enlightened citizens were determined to defend it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-431
Number of pages21
JournalPlanning Perspectives
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development

User-Defined Keywords

  • Colonial spatial planning practice
  • Harbour reclamation
  • Hong Kong
  • Lefebvre
  • Urban planning and civil society


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