[Video Essay] Hybrid City


This video presentation explores hybrid function of lobby for people across generations. The lobby is a shared space under each residence. On one hand, it is like a bridge for me or generation Z to connect with outside and privacy space. The lobby is the center of the whole apartment as it carries on the function of social connection with neighbors, security, and messaging (Wedemeyer, 1979). However, nowadays, not only do we not go through the lobby to socialize, but we go through it quickly to avoid too much contact. The situation worsened during the pandemic; we tried our best to prevent physical connections with others. The lobby’s function seems to be only security and messaging. On the other hand, this situation seems different for other generations. Almost whenever I go out to buy groceries, I see some elderly people sitting in the lobby, chatting, especially in the fifth wave of the pandemic. It is different from my assumption for the lobby today. Therefore, it raises my curiosity about the meaning of the function of lobby across generations during the pandemic.

The first part of the video shows my daily outings as it is filmed in my home and the lobby. The process shows how the lobby functions for young generation. Moreover, it shows the seats and locations in the lobby where the elderly usually sits and talk. I chose this lobby as it is my familiar place. The end of the video shows the different forms of lobbies in Yuen Long, showing the various forms of social spaces.


For the literature review, scholars used to discuss topic related to social connections in lobbies and neighborhoods. For example, the research mentioned that people in the older generation welcomed connecting with others, especially those of the same age, rather than other generations in the third place (Forrest et al. 2008). Oldenburg (1989) came up with the idea of a third place, a place where anyone can come for social experience and interaction. It gave me the insight that most third places were closed or had strict regulations. Under this situation, the lobby seems to become a semi-third place for the elderly during the pandemic era.

For observation, I chose the lobby of the building where my house is located. I tried to walk through the lobby at different times to observe the social connections. Most of the time, especially in the morning, elderly would gather inside lobby seats or outside the lobby to chat with each other or with the security guards. I rarely saw any young or middle-aged people in the process, but they mostly went out quickly through the lobby.

Video production

First, the director used a filming method like observational documentary, using third and first-person shooting. The view is more objective when using the third-person view to record steps before leaving home. This is a pave for describing the desire of elderly for face-to-face social interaction. For first-person perspective, it is used to make the picture more objective. Using first-person perspective to record the journey of taking the elevator and finally leaving the apartment. The first-person shots can deliver the people’s emotional and living status in the video (Eugeni, 2012). This clip wants to represent daily life. Many people pass by the lobby without staying for social connections, which used to be the primary role of the lobby (Wedemeyer, 1979). The director tried to use such a filming technique to make the audience resonate with them and recall their relationship with a lobby.

The film also uses light and dark to represent the different functions of the lobby across generations. In the first half of the video, we used dark lighting to describe social isolation during a pandemic. Although we can use social media to connect with different people, the general mood is still relatively depressed and depressed. When it comes to social connection activities in the lobbies, the light is brighter. This activity relates to natural and physical connections, which is probably more vivid.


After making the video, I am better realizing the differences in needs across generations in the lobby. For younger generation, socializing is supposed to be done online, and the need for the lobbying role is limited to security. People make us subconsciously ignore the importance of face-to-face socialization for elderly and the role lobbies play in it. Especially in Hong Kong, where property prices are soaring, developers sometimes compress lobby spaces to increase the number of units. Still, the design cannot completely ignore the importance of lobbies for different groups of people.


For me or other people in the same generation, lobby means only a bridge between home and the outside world. I don’t set aside time for it or stay specifically.

Compared to chatting on cell phones, the elderly is more accustomed to face-to-face communication. Due to the closure of many public facilities, such as public libraries, sports grounds, etc., during the pandemic. Social opportunities for seniors are diminishing. The indoor and outdoor lobby in the neighborhood becomes their social venue. They will preparechairs for themselves as well as their partners. They chat with their neighbours, play sports together, and greet the staff who pass by.

With soaring property prices in Hong Kong, many lobbies have become simpler and simpler, with only one long hallway and people coming and going. Even so, a few chairs are placed in the narrow corridor, waiting for old friends to meet.


Alidoust, S. & Bosman, C. (2015). Planning for an ageing population: links between social health, neighbourhood environment and the elderly. Australian planner, 52 (3), 177-186.http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07293682.2015.1034145

CHEUNG, E. (Apr. 9, 2022). Why is Hong Kong’s coronavirus death rate so high? Breaking down fatalities by age and vaccination status. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3173698/why-hong-kongs-coronavirus-death-rate-so-high

Eugeni, R. (2012). First person shot. New forms of subjectivity between cinema and intermedia networks. Analisi Monografic, 19-31.

Forrest, R., Grange, A. L., & Yip, N. M. (2008). Neighbourhood in a high-rise, high-density city: some observations on contemporary Hong Kong. The Sociological Review, 50(2), 215,240.

Health & Community. (Feb 28, 2022). 891 cases found in restricted areas. Information Services Department. https://www.news.gov.hk/eng/2022/03/20220309/20220309_142322_029.html

Health & Community. (Feb 28, 2022). Over 34k COVID-19 cases records. Information Services Department. https://www.news.gov.hk/eng/categories/covid19/index.html

Oldenburg, R. (1989). The great good place: cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, hair salons and other hangouts at the heart of a community. Paragon House.

Wedemeyer, D. (Feb. 4, 1979). The lobby as an art form: it earns its way. The New York Times.https://www.nytimes.com/1979/02/04/archives/the-lobby-as-an-art-form-it-earns-its-way-the-lobby-as-art-form-it.html 

WU, A. (Feb, 21, 2022). Hong Kong had no plan for the coronavirus fifth wave and we’re paying now. South China Morning Post.  https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3167573/hong-kong-had-no-plan-coronavirus-fifth-wave-and-were-paying-now

1 thought on “[Video Essay] Hybrid City

  1. BinyueZhang  says:

    The topic you choose to elaborate on is quite interesting. You discuss the hybrid functions of the “lobby” for people of different generations. This way, you reveal the different living styles of different generations. The film technique you choose is also quite good since the combination of first-person and third-person angles can show the idea you want to convey more clearly. The problem is that, in your video, I couldn’t see the difference as huge as you want to represent in your essay. Maybe mainly because you didn’t compare the living styles of two generations using enough images. This is the point that you could improve.


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