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'Happy Man' to greet new Mong Kok mall shoppers

Sylvia Hui

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It may be difficult to visualise a prominent art piece smack in the

heart of bustling Mong Kok, better known for brothels and cheap and

cheerful fashion than its cultural atmosphere.

But a towering new bronze stick-man sculpture is about to change that.

The 2,700-kilogram figure called Happy Man, was installed on Tuesday

by its American designer Larry Bell outside the soon-to-open Langham

Place shopping centre.

Together with the polished glass surfaces of the Langham Place

complex, which comprises a 15-storey shopping centre, a five-star

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hotel and 59-storey office towers, the sculpture is set to become a

new icon in the old and colourful district. Happy Man, so named by

Langham Place architect Brian Honda, is number 26 in a group of 27

similar figures in Bell's "Sumer" collection.

Born of spontaneous sketches, the collection was named Sumer for its

links to ancient Sumerian culture.

"The Sumerians first invented bronze and this is my first bronze

project," Bell, 65, said. "Their calligraphy [like my figures] also

consisted of a lot of triangular forms."

"It's a crazy and fun area," Bell said of Mong Kok. "The sculpture

is casual and spontaneous, so I thought it was a good combination."

The sculpture will welcome shoppers into the glossy shopping centre

due to open next month. The mall features more than 300 retailers

targeting the young and trendy, and boasts such novelties as Hong

Kong's longest indoor escalators, a Digital Sky, where computerised

images are projected on to the ceiling, and a bold facade design

called The Rock.

The complex also includes Kowloon's tallest office towers and a

42-storey futuristic hotel.

Langham Place is part of a 15-year urban redevelopment project.

Dev-eloper Great Eagle Holdings spent HK$10.5 billion to complete the

1.8 million square-foot project.

sylvia.hui@globalchina.com

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END


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