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designing hong kong
Smoke stack in public space? Click here to stop it.

Since 2004 harbour activists have asked Government to reconsider the location of pump houses, ventilation shafts, and other infrastructure. But to no avail. Hong Kong residents and tourists will be forced to look at, smell and hear the air ventilation of the six lane Central Wanchai Bypass tunnel.

View from IFC rooftop to harbourfront blocked by the planned airvent.

Highways Department will place the air vents right in front of the public rooftop on IFC, a public space the community has paid dearly for. The rooftop was created by the developer in return for being allowed to break the rules protecting the view of Hong Kong’s ridgeline!

Landscape deck between IFC and Ferry Piers without (left) and with an airvent (right) next to it.

Following the 2009 policy address, government announced its decision to forego land premiums and delete the planned hotel and office developments in front of IFC and to change the land use to a “large landscaped deck connecting the Central Business District to the new harbourfront and providing about 1.7 hectares of public open space including a central plaza for festive events”, “a vibrant, attractive and accessible civic node primarily for public enjoyment of the harbourfront.”

All this flexibility is wasted with the Highways Department placing the airvent right next to it. Oh almost forgot, they will mitigate the impact by putting some ‘festive’ grass on the roof of the airvents.

Move the airvent

A site just a little to the west has been identified by engineers where the airvent will be between fly-overs and out of everyone’s way.

Highways Department's claims that such move will lead to delays rings hollow. Had Highways Department acted when people first commented there would be no risk of delay. In any case, the cost of a short delay is always much less than the cost of having a smoke stack in the wrong place forever.

'Say No'

Click here to let Government hear your views if you support the ‘Say No’ campaign by the tenants of IFC.

Report in the South China Morning Post by Joyce Ng on 29 July 2009

Bypass vent will ruin views, say critics

Fears of pollution in public open space

Harbour advisers are concerned that a ventilation building for the Central-Wan Chai Bypass will occupy a large area of a waterfront site, polluting the public open space with exhaust fumes and ruining views.

Alternative designs for the building, which is to be constructed in front of Two IFC and is proposed as either a "streamlined green roof", or a cube called "the play of illusion", are to be revealed at an exhibition for public consultation today.

The structure, which will be 18 metres high and occupy an area of 1,470 square metres, is one of three ventilation buildings to be built for the 4.5km bypass that will run underground at the reclaimed Central harbourfront and will be opened in 2017.

But harbour advisers are worried that the building will take up a lot of space and become an eyesore.

The latest plan for the reclaimed Central harbourfront, envisages that a site near the ventilation building, known as Site 2, will feature one location for cultural, retail, restaurant, entertainment, tourism and community uses, and will be managed by public-private partnership. The site, together with the neighbouring Site 1, will also have a large landscape deck covering the tunnel. Sites 1 and 2 were originally planned as locations for hotels and offices but the government reconsidered this proposal and replaced them with low-rise structures for community use after public opposition.

Paul Zimmerman, chief executive officer of Designing Hong Kong, and a Harbour Commission member, said it was the location rather than the design of the ventilation structure that worried him. "You can see what people will experience if the bypass vent is placed here - exhaust fumes issuing forth into the open space.

"The government promised that Sites 1 and 2 will become a podium plaza for community use. People are expecting a beautiful environment there," Zimmerman said.

He suggested shifting the ventilation building westward nearer to Central Pier 1, a place further from the harbourfront open space with less human traffic.

Opposition is also brewing among businesses in the IFC mall. Red Bar + Restaurant on the fourth floor of the mall is circulating a flier urging customers to object to the building, and says the structure will be an eyesore and block the harbour view in front of the mall.

Patrick Lau Hing-tat, another Harbour Commission member, said the ventilation location was not desirable. "No matter how you dress it up, it will take a lot of open space." Civil engineer Greg Wong Chak-yan said a ventilation building and a certain amount of exhaust fumes will be inevitable given that the public had agreed the bypass should go underground.

In response to an inquiry from the South China Morning Post, the Highways Department said it was "not recommendable" to relocate the building as this would require the scheme to be gazetted again and a new environmental assessment of the impacts of such a change, "which will cause serious delays to the completion and commissioning of the bypass project, of at least 1-1/2 to two years".

Moving it to the site near Pier 1 as the group suggested would require additional ventilation and cable tunnels of several hundred metres which would create an even bigger ventilation building and cause traffic disruption in the area.

The department also said the impact of the present design would be acceptable with mitigation measures.
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