Hong Kong has made an artist out of former architect Daphné Mandel. This Paris-raised, Versailles-educated landscape architect was named by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the “best young urban planning and landscape architecture professionals” in 2006, in recognition of her career designing Europe’s public spaces. After she moved to Hong Kong in 2008, it wasn’t the city’s remarkable skyline but the forgotten ruins and abandoned villages that piqued her interest.
“Anyone who hikes a lot in Hong Kong eventually comes across Hakka villages in the New Territories, or abandoned structures and obsolete houses in the hills, and I happen to be an avid hiker,” she says. She met members of a local group of urban explorers interested in documenting ruins and hidden sites across Asia, which led her to some of Hong Kong’s oldest villages.