Book Tree  Hong Kong  2018

Book Tree is a research project conceived by Associate Professor Peter W. Ferretto at the School of Architecture at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with the Mei Foo District Counsellor Ambrose Cheung.  The objective of the project is twofold: to inhabit a lost urban space and simultaneously to create a new type of reading experience for children within the Mei Foo neighbourhood.

Due to its high density and unique topography, Hong Kong has a high concentration of residual urban spaces, spaces that are not planned and typically occur by accident. These lost spaces have become invisible to local people who usually dismiss them as mundane background places devoid of purpose. 


Our research starts from the notion that through design, such spaces can be activated and transformed into inhabitable places.  Rather than design being a high-end service, the predominant case in Hong Kong, design here becomes a tool to transform a neglected corner beneath a flyover into a real open community space.

Libraries are typically associated with quiet and studious spaces. The idea behind the “Book Tree” is to install a structure where children can play while reading, rather than a chore reading books becomes a fun experience. The temporary installation is composed of two elements, an open timber landscape to sit down and a tree structure that holds books. The structure was conceived as a tree where the different branches each house books for different ages. The structure was built from untreated timber as to reconnect children to the warmth of natural materials contrasted to the mineral and hard materiality of the surrounding infrastructure. 

The manner in which the “Book Tree” operates is unique in Hong Kong.  Books are not registered nor borrowed, they are simply donated by the community for the community to take freely.  There is no trading, no promise to return, the tree acts as a temporary deposit for the many books Mei Foo households can no longer store.


Research Design team

Prof. Peter W. Ferretto 

CHOI Sze Ho Jack

WANG Haoran Howard

Construction Team

Candy WONG

CHAN Chun Yu Eric 

LUO Jing

WU Yi Jane

WONG Yuk Tsin Beryl





25 sqm     


Photo credits

Peter W. Ferretto

WANG Haoran Howard