[Field-Homework 3] Management City



Title: Management City

Site: MTR Passage

“MTR passage is a semi-public space with management.” — Initial Analysis

Hong Kong is a high-rise and high-density city, facing challenge of the shortage of buildable land and pressure of the rapid urbanization rate. Therefore, underground spaces, such as MTR passage, were developed to support the city life with high-efficiency mobility, mitigating congestion and pursuing high profits. As an increasing number of people rely on the railway system, the MTR passage is a place that people frequently access, connecting the station entrance and train and crossing the paid and free area. Like “street,” it provides some necessary public services, allowing people to access resources and activities. However, the MTR passage development is significantly driven by the efficiency and financial value managed by a private corporation. Thus, the passage becomes a “semi-public space” due to these restrictions.

“How does MTR Corporation manage the MTR passage?” — Key Findings 

I will mainly focus on these “management”: intangible management and management reflected on spatial design, and planning. Firstly, whether people are adults or children, MTRC identifies them as passengers, expected to pay for the MTR services. Some rules, such as no eating, and no off-masking, are proposed for them.

Management can be reflected on spatial design. If the MTR passage is a stage, all the actors have a similar movement: moving forward. Besides, the set on the stage is planned carefully in advance, aiming to operate efficiently. Walking in the tunnel-like passage resembled an endless corridor with only a few spatial changes, such as the exits. This experience is similar to a long take in movies. Indeed, this homogenous template can help MTR construct quickly with relatively low costs. In addition, during peak time, some physical barriers and markers drawn on the ground can separate passengers into two or three lines. This management further systematically constraints passengers’ behaviors: a stop and wandering are not encouraged in the passage. As a result, it is easy to get lost and ignore the surroundings because of these similarities.

Both MTR passage and street have seating facilities. However, the seat provided in the MTR passage is relatively inadequate and it is designed to make people feel a bit uncomfortable deliberately. Since most seats have used cold and hard materials. It highlights that these seating facilities’ function is to let people rest for a while rather than sleep or have a long conversation. Furthermore, passengers’ destination is planned based on the “rail+property model.” This model is a typical financial model, so MTRC usually builds a mall above the station or attracts shops open in the passage. Therefore, this management increases consumption in the service area. In case, selling and purchasing become people’s daily activities, bringing MTRC high commercial values.

Method of Producing

All of the elements in the MTR passage work together to manage the space to be efficient. Thus, I attempted to do a doc-fiction to show the reality in the passage. At the same time, I also edited and combined various “real” from different parts of the space to strengthen the theme. In order to show a complete view, a long take is frequently adopted.

“What we can learn from the research?” — Reflection and Aims

This video is inspired by the statement I read in Le Corbusier’s book: “a city is made for speed is made for success.” Similar to the MTR passages in the video, the management city becomes a machine and tool with several constraints as well. All of us are citizens living in governments’ service areas, managed by regulations, rules and invisible markers.

Aiming to accelerate urban development, decision-makers will prioritize the efficiency. In my opinion, it will be fewer typical public spaces in city. Instead, more specific function rooms may be constructed. Actually, this phenomenon is also “reasonable” during the pandemic: many public spaces are not allowed for people to enter; Some people may avoid others like the plague; people refuse to interact with each other.

However, urban space acts as a stage that creates a background for the “everyday life”. In the meantime, it also shapes urban cultures. Urban public space with a “homogenous template” may lead to homogenous culture, further resulting in “ignorance” and “disappearance” in the busy passage and this efficient and profit-driven world. That is why fewer people are willing to stop and enjoy the historic moments presented on the passage’s wall. That is why fewer people will interact with strangers when walking in the passage.

To create a vivid city, it is significant to provide a space to be “full of life,” a space created to be suitable for any interactions such as salutation, and playing instead of obligatory activities, and a space allows individuals to spend their time with no function.



Ackbar Abbas, “Building on Disappearance: Hong Kong Architecture and the City,” Public Culture 6 (1994):445; 448.

Biesterfeld P. (2015). A Creative Treatment of Actuality, Welcome to Film Services Office. https://www.videomaker.com/article/c06/18290-a-creative-treatment-of-actuality

CABADAK D., EMİN ŞALGAMCIOĞLU M. (2019). PASSAGES AS ‘URBAN NICHES’: a comparative research on the cognitive and morphological aspects of passages through space syntax theory and cognition. Space Syntax Symposium.

De Certeau, M. (1984). Spatial Stories. In The Practice of Everyday Life. pp.115-130. translated by Steven Randall. Berkeley: University of California Press.

in the new underground stations in Valencia 1995–2010. Urban Transport, 146. WIT Press. doi:10.2495/UT150291

Kamalipour H., Arab A.D., Soltani S., Alavi S. N., Mirzaei E. (2013). Understanding Continuity and Change in the Persian Vernacular Settlements: A Comparative Syntactic Analysis of Urban Public Spaces in a Case Study. Current Urban Studies, 1(4).

Le Corbusier. The City of To-morrow and Its Planning. A Contemporary City, translated by Frederick Etchells. Dover Architecture: 1987. Print.

MTR by-laws. https://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/main/mtr_by_laws.html

MTR Corporation. 2014. Building Railway in the City. The MTR Projects Journal, 3.

Pérez Igualada J. (2015). The metro and the city: interaction with the urban landscape

Xue Q.L., Ma L., Hui K. C. (2012). Indoor ‘Public’ Space: A study of atria in mass transit railway (MTR) complexes of Hong Kong. Urban Design International, 17 (2), pp.87-105.



Yi KUANG, Lily 3035950292



Director: Yi KUANG, Lily

Topic: MTR Passage

*All the video’s clips and pictures are original content

Background Music: Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G major, BWV 1007 (*edited by Yi KUANG)

I chose this since Bach was really good at composing in a systematic way which would be related to my theme. 

Site List:

  1. MTR Passage in HKU Station
  2. MTR Passage in Central Station




2 thoughts on “[Field-Homework 3] Management City

  1. XinyueTan  says:

    Really appreciate your efforts in combining so many thought-provoking questions and interesting concepts into one short video in a clear and straightforward manner. I really enjoy the part where you illustrate the difference between the illumination in the MTR passage with a long shot from the narrower escalator to the wider platform, this is what I never noticed. You do have a really close observation of the relationship between the small details and structure of the MTR passage. Moreover, I am particularly interested in what you have mentioned the materials in different designs could be used to organize people’s behaviors in the MTR, e.g., the cold and hard materials for seats. I agree with your statement, and I think the ease of maintenance, resistance to loads, and modern aesthetic tastes are also what the designers and planners have taken into consideration. Besides, your metaphorization of ‘space’ and ‘stage’ has reminded me of Goffman’s dramaturgy (1971) that we all follow a specific role in social life. To some extent, I think this metaphorization also helps to highlight the civic life this the MTR station, reflecting the social significance of the MTR passage. Overall, your presentation is attractive and direct, while your description in the video assists in demonstrating your ideas clearly. Good job!

  2. Jen Lam says:

    You have shown clear observations of various aspects of management in the MTR. What do you think of the management in the space? Do you appreciate it or would like to make criticisms? What do people think about the management of the MTR corporation? Do they follow the rules? It seems that your observations are not extensively analyzed.


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