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designing hong kong

HK Magazine runs an article this week on the revitalisation of old industrial buildings and the challenge for budding creative companies which have started in these empty properties. Click here to read the article by June Ng
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Revitalisation: Help or hinder the creative industry?
HK Magazine this week asks whether the Government’s initiative to stimulate revitalisation of industrial buildings will help or hinder the creative and entrepreneurial communities which Hong Kong desperately needs more of.

We don’t need marble; we need cheap rent.
The article points out that after “The Factory” in Wong Chuk Hang was upgraded, the rent more than doubled. It describes the worries of the growing number of ‘creative tenants’ in older industrial buildings. According to the manager of a 18,000 sq. ft. rehearsal venue in San Po Kong: “We don’t need marble floors; we only need cheap rent.”

Research and creativity need low cost of experimentation.
The obstacle in Hong Kong for creative, design, research and entrepreneurial talent is the cost of time and space needed to experiment. Free marketers will say the C word: Let China and especially Shenzhen cater for this. Once businesses are successful and can afford the rent and salaries, they’ll move back to Hong Kong to be close to the financial and business centre. If it was ever so easy to move back and forth!

Help ‘creatives’ to pay the rent.
The Government could concentrate more on market demand and review its lowest-cost procurement system which leaves little room for creativity. ‘Design’ can be made part of tender requirements. Government can employ design services separately to develop concepts and designs prior to procurement, and to update standards and guidelines for the many ‘recurring’ items it purchases.

More land premiums to buy more creativity.
From Government literature to street side amenities – the better it looks, the more the public will demand a better quality design for products, services, and their living environment. That will help ‘creative types’ pay rent for revitalized industrial buildings, and in turn afford landlords to pay land premiums to Government.

Bingo?
Land premiums go to the Capital Works Reserve Fund, however, ‘buying creativity’ primarily impacts Government budgets covered by general revenue. We are sure someone can resolve that one. Afterall, why keep the Capital Works Reserve Fund now that we are part of China?
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