Design HKU Map by Votes
- Public Art by Phoebe Man

(HKU Graduate House Artist-in-Residence Programme)
Location: The Trapesium, Level P4 Foyer, Graduate House, No.3 University Drive, The University of Hong Kong
Exhibition Period: 10/4/2006 ¡V 26/5/2006

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is now planning the Centennial Campus and asking for advice. What is an ideal campus? How to make people love the campus? Phoebe Man¡¦s public art might be able to provide some of the answers.

Her exhibition ¡§Design HKU Map by Vote¡¨ is now showing in the Graduate House of HKU. The show includes 2D works, a 3D work and a web art.
The 2D maps and 3D map are created basing on one questionnaire. The title of the questionnaire is ¡§My favorite space in HKU¡¨. Questionnaires are distributed in a class of general education. The students came from different disciplines. Each student can choose one space. More than half of the class (78) filled in the questionnaires. The result of the questionnaire is used to make new maps of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). For example, if 15 students like ¡§Happy Garden¡¨, the map will show 15 Happy Gardens, etc. If no one chose that space, the space would not be included in the new map.

Happy Garden Haking Wong Building
Lily Pond GardenMain Building Library Building

Space outside Pao Siu Loong Building

Sun Yat-sen stepsKnowles BuildingSuper Pass Bridge¡K
15 votes10 votes9 votes9 votes7 votes6 votes5 votes5 votes1 votes¡K

To make the audience easier to recognize the places on the map, she transformed the commonly used HKU map. She followed the Gestalt psychology and grouped the space. The new map has more open spaces and playgrounds. It also has classrooms, libraries and canteens. She also followed the preference of the students (such as spacious) and designed several maps. The centers of maps are always the open spaces and the gardens.

<2D HKU Maps of 05ARCH1011>
New Map designed by vote

For the 3D map, each vote can raise the space up one floor. Although Happy Garden is a flat space, it is the tallest in the 3D map because it got 15 votes. Audience can read the reasons of why students love the space on the map. The reasons are summarized as follows:
1. The place is spacious and can make people feel comfortable and relax (35%).
2. The building is beautiful, and has historical or symbolic meaning (23%).
3. The space offers a lot of activities and is easy to meet people there. (10%)
4. The function of the space is good. (5%)
Phoebe followed the preference of the students to design the maps.

<3D HKU Maps of 05ARCH1011>

To let other people vote and continue to design the HKU map, Phoebe designed a web version of her work ( and audience can go to the web site to vote. They can make a new HKU map together or make their own maps.

Map looks like an objective tool which shows us the direction. However, it is not totally objective sometimes. Some countries¡¦ boundary might be different from others. The name of the places can be different. Some places appeared bigger than the actual size. Maps sometimes show culture, history and power. Resetting the map is to emphasize the importance of an individual and the public. It can be subjective and imaginative. It shows the desire of an individual, the culture and the memories of a group of people. It can also function as a map to show the way (what the public want to go) and the position (of the architecture in the heart of the public).

Hon. Curator: May Fung
Web program designed by: Justin Wong.
The computer in the show is sponsored by NT Lab.
Graduate House, Hong Kong University of Hong Kong
May Fung
Justin Wong
Kwan Ng
Phil Shek
Raymond Fung
Dr. Desmond Hui
Dr. C.H. Ng
William Wong
All students who finished the questionnaires.


Artist Statement

I was invited to show my work in the Trapezium of the Graduate House by May Fung , the curator. The space is a hostel and I want to make some works which is site specific and public related. Therefore an idea comes up in my mind, doing a survey to see where the most favorite space of the occupants is and used the result to make a new map of University of Hong Kong (HKU).

The idea is inspired by the theory of Psychogeography. It is "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals," according to Guy Debord's Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography. Map is not always objective. It can be subjective and it can be changed by an individuals' mood and experience. Therefore I am thinking of using a survey to draw a map.

The survey was not very successful at the beginning. Only a few occupants returned the questionnaires. May suggested distributing the questionnaire in a class of general education. I think it is also a good idea to make a map for the class. More students filled in the questionnaires this time. I received 78 questionnaires, more than half of the class did the questionnaires. The result can represent the class. I started making the map.

I am looking forward to reading the result of the questionnaires. Since I had worked in HKU for 4 years, I like the campus too. The result is that students like "Happy Garden" most, Haking Podium the second, then Lily Pond, Main Building, Library Building ¡K
Their reasons are the follows:
1. The place is spacious and can make people feel comfortable and relax (35%).
2. The building is beautiful, and has historical or symbolic meaning (23%).
3. The space offers a lot of activities and is easy to meet people there. (10%)
4. The function of the space is good. (5%)

This result is a little bit unexpected. The landmark of HKU, Main building, is only the third favorite space. Outsiders are hard to imagine why Happy Garden, which has only one old tree and an empty space like Haking Podium could win the heart of the students. This result shows that the appearance of a space is not the only factor which makes people like that place. An empty space that could make people feel free and comfortable could also win the heart of the users. This result is also reasonable because HKU is a hilly space. Therefore, spacious place is precious.

After I received the questionnaires, I found it hard to know where are the "Happy Garden", "Super Pass Bridge", "Flea Market" and "Secret Corridor". Of course, they were not shown in the official map of HKU. It is interesting that the names show the culture of those spaces. They have nicknames because they are special. For example, "Sun Yat-sen place" became "Happy Garden". The name is less serious and more fun now. All the students know what "Super pass" means and wish that their examinations will be "Super pass". One of the answers of the questionnaire is quite unexpected: smoking area. First I think people can smoke in all the open space. It is not true. It is quite difficult to find a smoking area in HKU. I searched for a long time and I could only find one near the Main Library. No wonder why students like that place very much.

It is nice that I can know HKU better through this information. I want to thank all students for filling in the questionnaires. I also want to thank the audience of the talk. One of the audience said that I made the popular spaces bigger and higher in my new map. However, if the popular space is higher and bigger, it might not be popular anymore. I said it is true. The art work is not practical. It is only a symbol. It put more emphasis on the unaware space and the public. This is also the spirit of public art.

There are two kinds of public art. One is the art that put in public space. Another one is the art that shows public views. My work is the latter one. The web version ( is open. I set the rules. The audience can vote to change the work. The process is the work itself. In theory, it can last and change forever. This natural, live and interactive map is totally opposite to the map in reality. Maps especially city map cannot be changed by ordinary people. They are always in the hand of the institution or the authority and keep distance from the public and the users. We might need to rethink the relationship between the users and the planner.