‘Liminal Urbanism’ outlines how new urban systems and socio-spatial orders can emerge as liminal ‘states’ when previous orders and stable states are erased or are no longer functional. The contention is that when cities legitimated systems are incapable of dealing with particular contradictory conditions, then liminal states can appear as transitional phenomena that disrupt the quotidian operation of the city. These liminal states manifest in different ways: as intangible, invisible or aleatory phenomena, or, on the contrary, they may be visible and tangible expressions of collective dissent, unrest or desire for change. They give presence to the in-between or the marginalized, emergent conditions, the informal or its suppression, social transformation or civic dissatisfaction, but can they also be intentional, planned and structured.
This paper contextualizes Liminal Urbanism relative to city-state and enclave conditions, in which the differentiation of cultures, political ideologies, socio-economic conditions, and spatial realms affect urban conditions with manifold social, territorial and economic consequences. Referencing Hong Kong not only as an extraterritorial enclave and intensely neo-liberal city, but also drawing from its multi-scalar liminality evident in: the influx of refugees; outsourcing of industry; the fear of pandemics or the recent rise of anti-government, anti-Mainland, pro-democracy and pro universal suffrage protests in Occupy Central (2014) as factors creating internal contradictions. This situates some of Hong Kong’s anomalies – Chungking Mansions, Kowloon Walled City, or its external border – as constituent factors in the city’s liminal ‘states’ that indicate the emergence of new spatial orders and systems of urban governance.
Liminal Urbanism therefore can re-conceptualize ways to understand the city as a series of liminal states, questioning what role these city states and states of urban development as spatio-temporal phenomena can have. Further exploring the nexus between planned and emergent urban conditions, as challenges to existing forms of planning, and social change; and how the extra-territorial effects specific locales.