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designing hong kong

Third Open Letter to the Secretary of Transport

And now it is a snow ball.

Bobsy Gaia is the founder of Life Café in
SOHO. He also founded Positive News HK and is the chair of ABLE Charity. In his letter to the Secretary for Transport today Bobsy calls for permanent Summer Streets by pedestrianizing SOHO and adjoining areas.

Send your own letter to the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Eva Cheng, at
[email protected] cc [email protected].

To read the previous open letters, click here.

SOHO, Please!

Dear Ms Eva Cheng,

I am writing another letter following the letters from Designing Hong Kong and Mark Clifford about giving people the right to have areas where they are not threatened by cars, pollution or speeding delivery trucks; areas where humans have rights over vehicles; areas where families and children can enjoy a relaxed and creative time in a community designed for people by people.

SOHO is already growing organically in this direction through the creative and dynamic initiatives of people and businesses. It would be so easy to build on this existing dynamic without having to reinvent the wheel so to speak.

I recently published an article on this subject and have appeared on the radio several times talking about it and I must tell you that it has overwhelming support from just about all sectors in our community.

Cities all over the world are rushing to pedestrianize their streets and squares with tremendous economic rewards and community benefits.

Please read my short article (below) on how Soho can become Hong Kong's missing downtown area very quickly.

You have in your power now a chance to show real leadership by creating a beautiful space that can only benefit all of HK. Yes there will be opposition from the status quo and a few self interested sectors of the community but please know that you have the ethos of our times on your side: tremendous public support and a chance to leave a legacy that can inspire people for years to come.

Sincerely yours,

Bobsy Gaia
Po Hing Fong, Hong Kong


Why can't Hong Kong have a downtown area - An area for people to enjoy and relax in whilst absorbing the unique vibes of this modern cosmopolitan city?

Unlike most great cities HK lacks a city centre for the people, where one can be without the hustle of honking cars, speedy delivery trucks and polluting transport.

A place that can have rich street culture, aesthetic street furniture, green trees & shrubs planted to blend in with the surroundings.

This vision is not only feasible but also necessary for the collective sanity of HK.

This Holistic vision adds voice to the current plethora of design proposals being put forward to save or renovate what is left of HK's central cultural urban treasures.

There are some great proposals dealing with the street markets, old central police station, pedestrianizing SOHO, the emerging Victoria Harbour waterfront, the old police married quarters and various old and interesting street terraces here and there.

Why not unite all these proposed plans for these various locations into one greater plan that links them all together?

Anyone who has recently visited the old police station can be excused for drooling over the potential of how this historic and majestic structure can be developed.

HK could finally have an open piazza with al fresco café culture seating around a central fountain under the shade of those great trees and surrounded by those impressive colonial buildings in a central car-free zone. Imagine the beauty!

How much would any city give to be given such an asset located in the heart of it's centre? Billions? Trillions?

Imagine a plan that linked the old police station with SOHO via a pedestrian bridge that crosses old bailey street into a pedestrianized Staunton street. The SOHO loop which comprises Staunton and Elgin Street could be rich in cafés, art galleries, individual boutiques and restaurants with cobbled streets and shaded by trees.

The other side of SOHO is linked to the old police married quarters with a pedestrian bridge over Aberdeen street, Bridges street and connect with all the small quaint streets and beautiful stairways to become an aesthetic uniformity and limited to traffic. From SOHO green corridors can be created along existing streets that run down to the street markets. These corridors are for pedestrians only. From the street markets these corridors can run further down to link with the harbour waterfront.

Voila! HK could finally and inexpensively and with minimum disruption have a beautiful, green space for people. This will generate huge revenue for the local tourist industry and may well help HK become the world city it so aspires to be.

The time to act is now because it is an idea whose time has come. Yes there will be a few objecting voices here and there, as there always has to be, but overall this is a plan that can only benefit one and all.

Why has SOHO thrived recently? SOHO has been growing steadily and organically in recent years and has become a very popular area with tourists and locals alike, it is an area rich in individuality and creativity and a classic example of where the government gave and inch then the people gave a mile.

Calling on all concerned parties to unite around a greater central vision and present a unified plan to the powers that be.

Email me: [email protected]

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