The East Coast Park and… a Skatepark?
A New Approach to Public Space Along the Harbourfront
By Erik Thorbeck (www.erikthorbeck.com)
Photos by Ollie Rodgers (@ollierodgers1)
This article is the first in a series on Hong Kong’s relationship with skateboarding. As skateboarding has grown in popularity, it has laid bare the need for a change in approach by both the Harbourfront Commission and the LCSD. Lately, complaints have risen from residents nearby Kennedy Town’s Belcher Bay Promenade (see article), which highlights the need for us to examine its relationship with space, and analyze how the city can co-exist with skateboarding. Fortunately, there are receptive ears in government that recognise the potential positive impacts of it, and are starting to accommodate it. This first article looks at the growth of skateboarding in Hong Kong’s East Coast Park, a new and much-loved waterfront play space in Fortress Hill.
We Ask for YOUR Input!
As skateboarding has grown in popularity in Hong Kong, it has also become clear that skateboarders lack proper spaces to practice, thus skateboarders have turned to recently upgraded public spaces like the Wan Chai Waterfront, Belcher Bay Promenade, and the East Coast Park. As the Hong Kong Harbourfront Commission is currently considering how to better accommodate / manage skateboarding, with the potential for a new park to be built, we would like to better understand the community’s needs. Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Island in particular has long lacked adequate spaces for young people to play along the waterfront, and given the growing interest in sports like skateboarding, roller blading, and cycling, there is an opportunity to push for better representation in the design of new spaces in this treasured part of the city.
If you consider yourself a skateboarder, or have interest in it, please fill out this short survey. This survey is not a government initiative, and Designing Hong Kong is not affiliated with the Hong Kong government. However, we believe undertaking an effort to better understand this growing demographic will help Designing Hong Kong push for more active spaces along the waterfront. We thank you for your time.
Click Here: https://forms.gle/PXuE7UQhxYPDg7TeA
The East Coast Park
Since its completion in September 2021, the East Coast Park along the Fortress Hill waterfront has become wildly popular. On any given day, at almost any time, you’re likely to find a flurry of activity: kids running around, people relaxing, roller bladers, young cyclists, fitness enthusiasts, and naturally, skateboarders. We can’t say for sure whether this was intended or not, but the space has become the new default meeting space for skateboarders all over Hong Kong. It has become so popular with skateboarders, that the city is now designing a new skatepark under the nearby overpass, which presents the city and skateboarding community with an immense opportunity, should it be undertaken correctly. In order to build a park that avoids the mistakes of others in Hong Kong, the city needs to engage the skateboarding community, to build a space that reflects its needs and ensure its full potential.
That skateboarding has become so popular in the East Coast Park Precinct is perhaps not a surprise. As a large, open harbourfront space with smooth ground and great views, it also fills a need for something long craved by the skate community. “Growing up on Hong Kong island since the age of 7, there were limited public spaces where you were allowed to skate aside from Chai wan skatepark and Morrison Hill racetrack,” remarks Ollie Rodgers, a local skateboarder and filmer. Despite the many open areas with smooth ground on HK island, skateboarders were shunned from public spaces until recently, thus having to try their luck at other spots in public or commercial spaces. “It’s great that they now accept skateboarding as a proper hobby and provide a scenic waterfront space for skaters of all levels, ages and genders to come together and skate.”
A New Approach to Managing Public Spaces
The way the space is managed also represents a new approach to public space undertaken by the harbourfront commission. Harbourfront spaces differ from other parks in Hong Kong because they are less regulated, and at the same time are more open to a wider variety of uses. Parks managed by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department are usually smaller and more limited, and most of the time are off limits for skateboarding (unless they are designated skateboard parks). Thus, the availability of open space + smooth ground, as well as the organic approach to managing it has made it a natural home for skateboarders. However, recent events suggest a change is afoot, as we have seen signs in the park telling users to “Pack Up Your Skateboard”. Does this mean that both young and old skateboarders will be banned from this beloved space?
Hong Kong Island’s First Real Skatepark?
Fortunately, the city has also apportioned a swath of space under the nearby overpass for an actual skatepark, currently being designed, according to a source from the Harbourfront Commission. This presents a question for both the Harbourfront Commission and users: How do we design a park that eases stress on the East Coast Park space, but also meets the needs of the skateboarding community?
A skatepark that eases stress on the neighbouring East Coast Park needs to achieve a few things that are concerning to skateboarders. Firstly, it provides adequate features for more intermediate and advanced skateboarders. Currently, skateboarders of all levels use the East Coast Park space, yet by its nature, it is more suited for children. Older, more experienced skateboarders skate faster, pop tricks higher, and are looking for park features that they won’t have to fight pedestrians and children for space on. To clarify however, intermediate to advanced refers more to the tricks done on a certain obstacle, rather than the actual obstacle itself. For example, a ledge of the right size, in the right location, can be skated by skateboarders of all levels, and past park surveys in other cities (such as in Vancouver), have indicated that basic features like ledges (see photo below) are the most desired feature by skateboarders. Getting this right will ease stress on the ECP, and give both child skateboarders and pedestrians a safer experience in the park.
Born Skate Plaza in Barcelona is an excellent example of a variety of simple features that mimic the street spots most desired by skateboarders.
Secondly, the park needs to strike the right balance between street + transition features. Many parks in history have made the mistake of dedicating too much of the park to large bowls, or half pipes that are in fact not desired by youth. Tseung Kwan O skatepark is an example of this. The park has two bowls, and 90% of the time they are empty. The deeper of the two bowls was actually cordoned off, and the rumored reason behind this is that an old lady fell to her death there, though this is unconfirmed. This has resulted in almost half of the park being basically un-usable by most skateboarders. It’s become clear that the majority of users of this park prefer street features, and this should be thoroughly investigated before any design for a new park is confirmed.
At this stage, community input is crucial to getting the design and operation right. A skatepark, if done right, will act not only as a hub for community, easing the burden on other public spaces and sidewalks, it will also draw in activity and give life to previously under-utlized spaces. Given the premium of space along the waterfront, the cost of getting it wrong again is too high. The Harbourfront commission should look to cities like Vancouver, which has conducted surveys of the skate community every 5 years since the city’s first “skate plaza” was built in 2005. This input allows the city to better allocate resources and design priorities, ensuring better space for the skate community, as well as less disruption to nearby public spaces for pedestrians.
A Reminder: Please Fill Out Our Survey!
Click Here: https://forms.gle/PXuE7UQhxYPDg7TeA
Illegal parking blocks waterfront at Shun Tak Centre
Illegal parking blocks waterfront at Shun Tak Centre
One of the unresolved problems in creating a continuous harbourfront and complete the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail is Shun Tak Centre. Both pedestrian and vehicular traffic are obstructed by illegal car parking at the ground level.
Together with Trailwatch, i-Discover and Dutch Chamber, you are invited to take part in the mapping event from 21st December – 18th January. Join any time, at your own convenience.
The mapping event will run from 21st December – 18th January. You can take part at any time, at your own convenience.
- The 65km trail is divided into 8 sections, from easy to moderate in difficulty. There’s something for everyone, from steep remote mountain climbs to flat urban harbourside walks. If you’re feeling like you want a challenge, you can run or walk the entire trail in one go, or if you want some leisurely walks, you can split up your journey into sections over several days.
- When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail with detailed instructions for each section. You simply print the set for your preferred section, pack some water and snacks and be on your way! The TrailWatch app will help you navigate on the way.
- Along the trail are over 70 Points of Interest. Places with a story to tell. We ask you to stop, take a breather, have a wander. Share with us your pictures, observations and conversations (English or Chinese) through the TrailWatch App, What’sApp or e-mail. We’ll collect the most compelling narratives and photographs and put them on an illustrated map.
- End of January we’ll publish Hong Kong’s first community-created Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail Walking Map
- Each participating team will get a pack with 12 Hong Kong neighbourhood walks as a souvenir and prizes for teams with most original entries!!
Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail Challenge: https://dutchchamhk.glueup.com/event/mapping-the-hong-kong-island-coastal-trail-30453/
Register our event: https://dutchchamhk.glueup.com/event/30453/register/
8 recommended section: https://www.coastaltrail.hk/hkict-route.html
Download TrailWatch: https://apps.apple.com/hk/app/trailwatch-your-hiking-guide/id791098937?l=en
Submission to [email protected]
步行 . 港島環島徑長65公里，共分為8段；有合家歡的海傍步行徑，亦有較進階的攀岩及行山徑，適合不同年齡層與體力的人士參與。喜愛挑戰的人士可以嘗試以步行或緩步跑方式一氣完成全程，你亦可以在不同日子，不同時段漫步所選的分段路徑。
紀錄 . 透過Google Play或the App Store下載Trailwatch手機應用程式，並選擇港島環島徑路段以即時展開導航功能，紀錄活動情況及上傳沿路拍攝的照片。
探索 . 跟隨路徑上的指引，尋找景點背後的故事，發掘城市更多有趣的面貌。
分享 . 這些景點背後有什麼故事？有什麼值得到訪的理由？對你而言又有什麼意義？透過以下社交平台，與我們分享你沿途的所想，所見，所聞 – 可以是你的個人回憶，難忘的經歷，很棒的照片，甚至是路途上展開的有趣對話（中英皆可）
Designing Hong Kong and a few Yau Tsim Mong District Council members would like to collect your views on the topside development on XRL.
Sun Hung Kai Properties submitted a re-application of building’s design and structure (Application No. A/K20/133) under section 12 (a) of the Town Planning Ordinance. If you have any concerns, please take this chance to comment to the Town Planning Board by Oct 9th. Your views may improve the final design of the development.
Click here for the submission to Town Planning Board (deadline on Oct 09)
Click here for Designing Hong Kong public consultation
Click here for Proposed Topside Development by Masterplan Limited
Click here for Paper of the proposed Topside Development
For enquiry, please contact us at [email protected]
新鴻基地產根據《城市規劃條例》第12（a）條提交了建築物的設計和結構的申請（申請編號A / K20 / 133）。請在10月9日之前向城市規劃委員會發表意見，或加入條件限制。你的意見可能會影響最終建築設計，從而改善社區發展。
Designing Hong Kong, on behalf of the Central Harbourfront Concern group, has submitted a fresh proposal to rezone the majority of the Central Military Dock to Open Space.
Once approved, only the built structures and landing steps will remain permanently under military control. The 150 meter long promenade will be open to the public under the Pleasure Ground Regulations Ordinance managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Our rezoning application under section 12 (a) of the Town Planning Ordinance ensures the Government can manage the majority of the site as a public open space together with the rest of the central waterfront. The gate houses, control room and landing steps will remain under the management and maintenance by the PLA. When a vessel is berthed in Central for flag-day or other purposes, the area can be closed under the Public Order Ordinance.
There is no military need for the Central Military Dock to be permanently handed over to the PLA. The military has a large and secure military dock at Stonecutters which is fully equipped for vessel maintenance and service. The Central Military Dock is primarily for ceremonial purposes. In the extreme situation of a war or other military need, the entire waterfront of Hong Kong Island can be sequestered by the PLA at short notice.
Click here for the full text of our rezoning application
Click here for the media briefing held on 22nd August, 2019
Click here for the media briefing held on 31st October, 2019
Site Plan of the Central Military Dock 中區軍用碼頭位置圖
On 4 February, we invited you to give us ideas for making better use of our payphone locations.
Next, we published the 34 proposals and asked people to vote here.
Today we announce the voting results so far. The three most and the three least liked ideas, as well as the full results, are below.
We urge the Government to replace our payphones with multi-purpose communications panels, reverse vending machines where you can drop off plastic bottles, and hydra-chills where you can fill up chilled water.
Feel free to leave us your comments on our facebook/ the comment section below.
The full voting results to-date.
Play in the Tak
Join and connect with friends – come and play along Tak 玩德節- the original name for “Des Voeux Road Central”.
The Tak festival starts 27th February and runs till end of March.
Sections of the street will be transformed into experimental playgrounds. You are invited to play Jenga on the street corner, join a sidewalk gaming tour, and discover hidden gems in alleys and lanes to start an interesting conversation with strangers. You can join workshops, exhibitions, talks and events.
The festival is presented by the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative. The aim is to raise awareness and support for improving the pedestrian environment along Des Voeux Road Central.
For more information:
Here are our comments regarding the hawker management policy suggested by the government:
We support the proposed principles for Hong Kong’s hawker policy.
We urge for an additional principle together with Shop Extensions and Outdoor Seating Arrangements
We support the measures proposed by government
Hawker trade is not welfare
District led proposals should be promoted
The government plans to spend 750 million dollars to relocate the Harcourt Road fresh water pumping station to Hong Kong Park. The construction will result in the removal of a wooded slope at Hong Kong Park and felling of 118 trees. It would impact 2,150 square meters of park space, and major sections of the 150 year old squared rubble defensive wall at Flagstaff House heritage site.
Please sign the below petition now.