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Inside Volume I: My Hong Kong: 1993 & Beyond: Part II

October 23, 2011

Hong Kong is blessed with one of the most outstanding and beautiful natural harbour in the world. The harbour’s deep, sheltered waters were perhaps instrumental in establishing Hong Kong as an early major world trading centre since it facilitated large ship anchorage. Unfortunately the many government officials today that are responsible for the planning of the harbour are not visionary people. Over the years the harbour has been gradually reclaimed for transportation and commercial exploitations.

When I arrived in Hong Kong in 1993 access to the waterfront was restricted in many areas; occupied by commercial and industrial organizations and even by illegal structures. Fortunately today, 2011, there appear to be some coordinated efforts to bring sensibility to the waterfront promenade. It seems however whatever is being redeveloped lacks quality in creative designs.

The foreground of this sketch illustrates the casual (and shall we say poor?) design quality of the waterfront promenade at the Wan Chai Section of the shoreline wall; an interesting view “spoilt” by ordinary and un-interesting design details. The other photographs in this spread give an idea of the surrounding areas where I did this waterfront sketch.

This sketch purposely did not include the illegal structures that occupy the shoreline walls at the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter. I sometimes choose to include only elements that make interesting compositions. Before starting my sketch I always explore the view to capture a desired “frame”.

My Hong Kong Volume One mixes images in a random sequence since the book is a personal document that records my time in this beautiful city. The other images in this spread are the Star Crest Residential project and the detached houses on the Peak both of which I did extensive design explorations.

The shoreline of Hong Kong’s Central district is presently going through more land reclamation and developments. Here the Government’s Tamar Site now houses the new Hong Kong Government Headquarters that includes the new Legislative Wing and consolidates all government department offices into two ordinary ugly building blocks. Again the rational for the land reclamation is to “cover-up” the new western transit rail line that runs adjacent and below the shoreline. Of course the new reclaimed waterfront land will provide new commercial developments. What else is there to do in Hong Kong besides “shop till you drop”?

The new western line of the transit rail need to by-pass the Wan Chai and Central districts which necessitated reclaimed lands to bury the underground tunnels. An International Urban Design Competition on what to do with the reclaimed land was staged by a concerned group to try to influence the government planners on the opportunities ahead. Design submissions came from all over the globe, but unfortunately all ideas were ignored by the government planners. The majority of the submissions clearly illustrated that “open space environment” should be priority in the new reclaimed land. That will not happen.

This spread shows our submission to the competition and the unique skyline of the Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Central districts of Hong Kong’s Island waterfront.

  1. Daphne Yee Man permalink

    What a shame that the Govt did not value the many good ideas from the International Urban Design Competition despite they often talk about community engagement. I long for a HK water front with public access to the water, more activities and good connectivity with more inland districts.

    • The highways department and the MTR appears to have precedence over pedestrians and citizens when it comes to waterfront access. Now they are reclaimng parts of the northern shoreline of Hong Kong Island to facilitate transportation, and as usual the promenade will be least of their concern.

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