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designing hong kong

The Hong Kong Urban Design Alliance presents an alternative for the Central Waterfront

The Hong Kong Urban Design Alliance (UDA) was establised in 2001 by urban design professionals. The UDA promotes a higher standard of urban design, the art of making places for people - the public realm - and improving the quality of urban life. The UDA is a joint taskforce of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and the Hong Kong Institute of Planners, with participation from the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects (Hong Kong Chapter) and the Planning Institute of Australia (Hong Kong Branch).

The UDA Convenor, Architect and Urban Designer Paul Chu, together with members Dr. Peter Cookson Smith, Dr. Sujata Govada, 
Mr. Vincent Ng and Mr. K.S. Wong, claim "a better distribution of the same total gross floor area for new development." Using a large physical model and graphical illustrations they listed 10 key changes to the Government's plans for Central:

1. Less land for roads and transport interchanges;
2. Better integration of transport services;
3. Lower development between IFC and the Central Ferry Piers;
4. A street level esplanade from the Star Ferry to the Central Ferry Piers;
5. Inner harbour surrounded by outdoor seating;
6. Moving the PLA berthing out onto a pier;
7. A public swimming pool;
8. A historic tram line from Pier 1 to HKCEC;
9. A large maritime museum;
10. Large foot decks over the road network between APA andd HKCEC

The UDA also envisions Queen's Pier back on Edinburgh Place, the old Star Ferry clock tower and its chimes in its original location, and the Golden Bauhinia in front of Tamar.

"It is a very large area, and our changes will make the Central Waterfront - the area from the Four Seasons to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center - a more pleasant and vibrant experience for locals and visitors," the UDA explained.


香港,2008 7 29 - 香港城市設計聯盟 (UDA) 今天發放了一個香港中環海傍的新城市設計。UDA 代表以立體模型、平面圖則和圖像展示了他們向政府提議的中環海傍新城市設計方案。計劃範圍從四個季節酒店到香港會議展覽中心。香港城市設計聯盟(UDA)2001 年於香港建立,以增加市民對城市設計的關注,推廣城市 設計至更高水平為目標,從而改進香港生活的質量。UDA 是香港建築師學會和香港規劃師學會的專業聯盟,聯盟還包括香港園景師學會,美國建築師學會(香港分部都市設計委員會)和澳洲計劃學會(香港分部)的參與。UDA 提倡高質素的都市設計,為公眾改善都市生活的質量。

UDA 已向政府遞交了關於中環海傍諮詢文件的具體評論和建議。在文件中某幾個不同的標題下UDA 對政府表示了不同意。我們以政府文件中同樣的標準提出新方案,使之更容易比較。

Details of the submission and comparison with Government's plans

A. Responding to Public Aspirations
The UDA does not think Government's scheme meets public aspirations for this location. We have themed our proposal "The Happening Place", reflecting the Town Planning Board's Vision Statement: "To make Victoria Harbour attractive, vibrant, accessible and symbolic of Hong Kong - a harbour for the people and a harbour of life". Our proposals are fully responsive to the principles laid down by the Harbour Enhancement Committee - and probably more so.

B. Creating a Vibrant, Green and Accessible Waterfront
The UDA disagrees with Government's assertion that their proposal projects a district identity, creates an attractive and vibrant harbourfront and ensures a sustainable design. Our proposal offers a mixed use experience, recognizable landmarks, a commercially viable harbourfront, humanly scaled pedestrian linkages and introduction of cultural facilities to create identity and vibrancy.

C. A Defined Urban Design Framework
The UDA considers that Government's scheme embodies no real sense of place, and that the four ‘principal design corridors' will not achieve what is claimed for them, having little unity or coherence. Our proposal creates a more articulated urban design framework, unifying the development through defined spaces, clear development axes and historical landmarks.

D. Achievement of Diversity and Vibrancy
Government's statement that their proposal will create diversity and vibrancy is at odds with what is indicated on their plan. Our proposal creates a series of humanly - scaled environments that represent natural extensions to the city that promote the interaction of people and events.

E. Development Intensity in Harmony with the Harbourfront
The UDA disagrees with Government's statement that in response to community aspirations for lowering development intensity, they have reduced building massing. They have in fact located two tall (one 16-18 storey, and one 30-storey building) adjacent to the waterfront ferry piers. Our proposal utilizes precisely the same area of commercial gross floor area as the Government scheme, but redistributes this in low-rise buildings which are used to define spaces and pedestrian streets.

F. Respecting the Natural Context and Existing Urban Fabric
Whilst low development intensity and building massing will clearly help protect the visual sanctity of the Victoria Peak ridgeline, the UDA disagrees with Government's claim that their proposal acts to reinforce visual corridors or well-defined streetscape. Our proposal not only protects the ridgeline, but generates a transition in scale, massing and development intensity towards the harbour, with well defined view corridors, and a ‘green necklace' of landscape elements which join together both existing and proposed spaces.

G. Ease of Access and Pedestrian Connectivity
We disagree with Government that the multi-level (underground, at-grade and elevated) pedestrian network will ensure easy pedestrian access. Our proposal entails a pedestrian network almost entirely at grade, with some elevated connections where appropriate, and parkland decks over the road network between the Academy of Performing Arts and the HKCEC.

H. Respecting Cultural Heritage
We disagree with Government's statements that "the historical context and compatible settings for heritage assets are maintained". Our proposal resurrects Queen's Pier at its original location with an extension to Edinburgh Place on the same axis along the inner harbour frontage, re-establishing its contextual position in relation to the harbour. The Star Ferry clock tower is proposed as a monument on the Esplanade in its original location, and a lighthouse is added over the pumping station near the waterfront. We also propose an historic tram line, a place for rickshaws, dai pai dongs, and places for street markets or night bazaars. This creates an opportunity to link tradition with contemporary urban culture.

I. Promoting Environmentally Friendly Design and Greening
Government has stated that environmentally friendly design features will be incorporated within the architecture, although this can be the case for any scheme. The ‘greening plan' proposed by government is, in practice, an amalgam of poorly defined zones given fanciful descriptions such as ‘Seaside Verdure', ‘Cultural and Floral Park' etc. which embody entirely the wrong emphasis for this important central waterfront. Our proposal creates a genuine ‘green' network of pedestrian avenues, spaces, precincts and promenades, together with a marine basin linked to a proposed maritime museum, a marine walk and a waterfront promenade including an inner harbour.

J. Summary of features

- The same amount of built gross floor area but redistributed in a more people-friendly way to create a sequence of new urban places.

- More public open space but distributed in a more dynamic and defined way, together with an additional 2 hectares of open space created as an Eco Park by reducing the road footprint and decking over the road network between the Academy for Performing Arts and the HKCEC.

- A human scaled inner harbour for recreational and boating uses, surrounded by wide promenades for al fresco dining and strolling.

- Dedication of less land for roads and transport interchanges, while improving the integration of transport services and making
Central Harbour more transit and pedestrian oriented.

- The deletion of tall blocks between the
IFC and the Central Ferry Piers, and inclusion of an additional storey of development above the existing piers.

- Introduction of a pedestrian esplanade between Statue Square and the Star Ferry, with the old Star Ferry Clock tower located in its original position as a landmark along the esplanade.

- An extension of a reinstated Queen's Pier location maintaining its original axis at the head of the
Inner Harbour to reflect its original function and prominence.

- The relocation of the
PLA Berthing arrangement to a pier structure, allowing for the incorporation of a public swimming pool or ‘lido' on the harbour edge.

- The incorporation of a historic tram line from Pier 1 to the HKCEC.

- A new
Maritime Museum incorporating its own marine basin with permanent moorings for a range of historic vessels to serve as museum ships and cafes.

- A sequence of contrasting spaces, plazas, and precincts, defined by low-rise buildings with active frontages along and adjoining the waterfront promenade, including a festival market place.

- A predominantly ground level pedestrian circulation system, including at grade pedestrian crossings across Central Boulevard (Road P2) providing direct linkages with the Central business district.

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