Focusing solely on the phenomena of trees sprouting from residential buildings in Hong Kong, Wild Concrete compares the living conditions between plants and humans. Such peculiar sight of ‘wild concrete’ is by no means exclusive. They can be found everywhere in the heart of the city: roots spiralling down the external pipes of a Mong Kok loft; shoots lurking behind a window frame of an apartment in Central hills; or branches spreading across a residence in Sham Shui Po, collapsing it from the inside out.
Given Hong Kong’s favourable coastal geography and subtropical humid climate, plants require minimal nutrition to thrive even on concrete walls. Sufficient annual precipitation enables an organic layer to form on the surface of buildings, where rainwater and moisture can be collected and stored. The decaying paint and weathered walls serve as a moist growing ground on which microalgae, fungi, lichens and mosses may bud.
On multiple levels, ‘wild concrete’ symbolises the spirit of the city and its people. While it appears a mismatch for organic roots to grow on concrete, Hong Kong people finding attachments to the floating city of investments feels no less intriguing. In the modern society, people’s lives are literally cemented together like the entangled wood and concrete; yet they build walls against each other.
The sense of human alienation and indifference is equally embodied by these clusters of trees standing aloof in midst of the foreign human settlements. On a more positive note, the saplings share the same exceptional qualities as their human counterparts: perseverance, diligence, and independence. Despite the harsh surroundings, both plants and humans strive for upward mobility and a better life with their high adaptability and flexibility.
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