UBC Graduate Research

Spirit of Gwo Laan : Culture, Resiliency, and Identity of Hong Kong Public Wholesale Market Szeto, Jeri Tsz Wai


Messy and mysterious. Gwo Laan, also known as the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, comes to life when darkness falls. The sound of rumbling fills the night air, as workers drag pallets stacked with boxes of fruit across the road in every direction. For the people of Hong Kong, Gwo Laan is about defining identity, preserving memories, and cultivating a sense of belonging. Under the rapid assault of urbanization, Gwo Laan is facing the challenge of relocation and transformation that risk eradicating its authenticity and intangible cultural capital. In February 2022, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announced a redevelopment plan for the Yau Ma Tei neighbourhood, including a proposal to relocate the wholesale operation from the fruit market and to transform the market into a tourist hub. Yet in this proposal, the voices of the everyday participants are almost nonexistent. To bring these voices back, Spirit of Gwo Laan will explore the shared values of Gwo Laan through everyday narratives. It will inform an alternative future: one where we are not only keeping and passing on what we value but also harnessing and enhancing heritage to support a more desirable model for the community.

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