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
The Tsing Yi Coastal Trail
Since 2002, we have been advocating access along the waterfronts. After we introduced the “Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail” we received suggestions to create trails along other coastlines of Hong Kong. One such request was for a coastal route around Tsing Yi Island, connecting the Tsing Yi Promenade with the Tsing Yi Nature Trails and along Tsing Yi South.
Tsing Yi is the fifth largest island in Hong Kong with a population of around 200,000. The outer perimeter is around 16 km. It is an important transportation hub connecting New Territories West and the urban area of Hong Kong with cross-sea bridges.
Tsing Yi Island is characterized by three main areas: Residential, industrial, and nature. The proposed “Tsing Yi Coastal Trail” links all parts of Tsing Yi with a convenient coastal trail for residents and visitors.
We have studied routes, documented sights and destinations, and prepared proposals for improvements which can bring the route closer to the shore. To learn more about the trail, visit our website.
Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail – Progress Update (August 2021)
Designing Hong Kong is working hard to improve the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail. Below is a progress update.
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）
The best water for marine recreation, leisure and sports in Victoria Harbour for all aegis the 90 hectares of inland water known as the Kai Tak Approach Channel and the Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter. The water is calm in almost all-weather conditions and is protected by land on all sides except for small gaps between the Kai Tak runway and Kwun Tong.
Two things are required to make this water available to the 2.2 million residents of Kowloon for recreation: clean water and purpose built marine supporting facilities along the shore (think: the water sports centre at Stanley main beach).
Despite intense planning for the former airport site, both are left wanting. Drastic action is needed to achieve both. The Government should reconsider treating Kai Tak’s inland water as a toilet bowl for the benefit of land revenue and cost savings.
The first ‘no-reclamation’ outline zoning plan for Kai Tak in 2007 had roads along each section of the waterfront. With lobbying, these were moved except for a short section.
As of 2014, water sports and recreation are now always permitted in public open spaces, but we have a saying: ‘always permitted means it never gets done’.
Instead of permanent sites we can expect two containers on the lower embankment of the runway, use of an old fire station surrounded by temporary structures near the runway tip and a small site under the highway without landing steps or a ramp to access the water.
What’s worse is the water quality. Many remember the smell upon landing at Kai Tak. To solve this, a 600 metre gap under the runway would allow tidal changes to flush the enclosed waters.
In 2018, it was proudly determined that the land could be used for development and infrastructure as the gap was no longer needed. As factories moved to the Mainland, the ‘expedient’ discharge of pollutants into storm drains had ‘improved’ a lot.
Unfortunately, the Government advised the Town Planning Board in November 2020 that although the smell had gone, runoff from Kowloon City and Kwun Tong and effluent from the Tai Po and Shatin Sewage Treatment Works will continue to flow into this semi-enclosed waterbody. This makes it doubtful the E.coli standards for secondary contact recreational uses will (ever) be met. The solution is simple – to invest into redirecting these pollutants to the open water.
It is not too late to fix Kai Tak.
要將這水域開放給 220 萬九龍區市民進行水上活動有兩個先決條件：一、潔淨水質；二、沿岸的水上活動配套（如赤柱正灘的水上活動中心）。儘管啟德的發展如火如荼，以上兩項卻了無寸進，要達成條件仍須下更多苦功。
啟德首個排除填海的規劃大綱（S/K22/2, 2007）中有馬路貫穿不同海濱路段，多次遊說後成功爭取只在一小段保留馬路，水上活動及娛樂亦隨之獲准在公共空間進行。（S/K22/4, 2014）然而，政府卻為了土地收入及節省成本，將啟德水域視為名乎其實的公廁。
比設施更大的問題是水質。啟德明渠的臭味仍記憶猶新，政府曾提出了在跑道打開一個 600 米的缺口，讓水流協助排走污水。2018 年，當局卻因為水質問題的改善提出沒有興建該缺口的必要，並建議把原有土地用作發展及基建用途。隨着工廠北移，把工業污水排到明渠的不負責行為日漸減少，水質才稍為有些改善。
令人嘩然的是政府竟在 2020 年 11 月（Y/K22/4）建議城規會繼續把九龍城、觀塘的排水，及大埔和沙田污水處理廠的已處理污水排放到臭味問題已經改善的啟德明渠，令人質疑在啟德水域進行康樂活動的安全，擔心大腸桿菌能否在可見將來，符合次級接觸的標準。其實解決方法非常簡單，只須把這些污水直接引流到開放水域。解決啟德問題，為時未晚。
First Joint Motion Passed in 4 DC: Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail
Four district council representatives, Paul Zimmerman, Michael Pang Cheuk-kei ( Southern District Council), Cherry Wong Kin-ching, Sam YIP Kam-lung (Central and Western District Council), Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, Cathy Yau Man-shan (Wanchai District Council) and Kelly Chan Po-king, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, Cheung tat-hung and Wei Siu-lik (Eastern District Council) gathered at the Aldrich Bay Promenade today (7 Nov) to urge for collaboration between District Councils, NGOs and Government to implement the “Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail”.
Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail – 65km trail with over 70 points of interest
The joint motion adopted unanimously in the four district councils of Hong Kong Island urges government to link existing promenades, footpaths and trails into a 65-kilometre long Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail.
The route covers over seventy points of interest including historic and tourist sites, beaches and waterfronts, urban and nature trails. The trail offers easy access for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. Many will be attracted to explore sections, while others may try to complete the route in one day. Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail will encourage more people to walk improving public health and enjoyment of the city. For more details see: www.coastaltrail.hk
First ever joint motion by District Councils
The greater length of the route is in place. However, some missing links and improvements are needed.
Some of the improvements overlap district boundaries. This first ever joint motion gained support across all councils, and across all political backgrounds. With coordination by the Home Affairs Bureau of the relevant departments the trail can be completed and enhanced with coherent signage, seats, water-fountains and a pet-friendly policy.
The trail is a bottom-up policy initiative and responds to proposals from members of the public. A recent online survey shows that 80% of 1,200 respondents support the improvements proposed to create a coherent trail around the island as close as possible to the waterfront. Many respondents offered valuable suggestions to enhance the appeal of the route for residents and visitors.
The District Councils will work to encourage government to provide the resources, funding and coordination required to implement the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail. In the meantime, we welcome suggestions, proposals, photos and stories from the community for the different sections. In the long term, we will work on a route for cyclists, and develop concepts for other trails to be enhanced for public enjoyment. We will also help other district councils with development of trails in other areas including a Tsing Yi Coastal Trail, a Kowloon Victoria Harbour Route and a North District Ecological Trail.
Need your support
To support our research and advocacy work, please make donations.
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Please make the cheque payable to “Designing Hong Kong Limited” and send it to 21/F, Chun Wo Commercial Centre, 25 Wing Wo Street, Central, Hong Kong
Method 2- Bank Transfer
Please make your transfer to HSBC 808-347553-001 under the name of Designing Hong Kong Limited.
Ms Cindy Li ([email protected] )
四區區議會代表，包括司馬文、 彭卓棋 （南區區議會代表）、黃健菁、 葉錦龍 （中西區區議會代表）、 楊雪盈 、邱汶珊 （灣仔區議會代表）和陳寶琼、 趙家賢 、 鄭達鴻 、韋少力 （東區區議會代表）於今日11月7日在愛秩序灣海濱（近東區法院大樓）倡議更多跨區議會、跨政府部門及與不同民間機構的合作機會，改善社區，完善港島環島徑。
你亦可以參與更多！告訴我們你對港島環島徑的意見，我們樂意聽取你分享沿途的風光和故事。如有任何相關的相片，請電郵至 [email protected]
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李穎妍小姐 ([email protected])
We conducted a public opinion survey between September 28th to October 6th regarding the captioned application. 143 people submitted their responses.
The majority of the respondents objected expressing concerns over the relaxation of building height restrictions, deteriorating air ventilation, urban heat island effect, daylight access and visual intrusion.
By Friday Oct 9, please submit your comments to Town Planning Board at https://www.info.gov.hk/tpb/tc/plan_application/A_K20_133.html
擬議辦公室、商業及零售發展並放寬建築物高度限制 (申請編號: A/K20/133)
- 62.94% of the respondents objected to the reflective exterior glass surface as it creates a glare which impairs the enjoyment of neighboring residents including particularly The Waterfront and The Austin. The glare may also impact nearby traffic. Solar reflections also raise temperatures and may impact vegetation nearby. Concerns were expressed over energy consumption for air-conditioning. The design is deemed does not match with the surrounding buildings.
- 71.33% of respondents are concerned over traffic impacts along Nga Cheung Road, Jordan Road and Canton Road. The proposed scheme proposed no less than 550 parking spaces for private cars. With the increase in parking spaces here and the car park at To Wah Road together with other developments in the area as well as new road connections such as the Central Kowloon Route, it is unclear whether the traffic burden exceeds capacity. Traffic congestion (and associated blaring of car horns) is experienced often in the area including along Jordan Road.
- 70.63% of respondents are concerned over the relaxation of building heights and the close distance between The Waterfront and XRL topside development. Such building structure would disturb daylight access, visual quality and air ventilation to inner area in Jordan.
- 76.22% of people object to relaxing height limit as this will set a bad precedent for nearby sites including future buildings at the WKCD. This application will set a precedent for others to change height restrictions. Respondents wonder if there is any justification of relaxing height limit after developers won bids for a site. Moreover, there is no compensation for the losses suffered by nearby residents. The gain would be simply for the developer at the cost of the neighbours.
- Although it is claimed that the proposed design has better air ventilation than the original scheme, 71.33% of respondents are concerned over the impact of having less fresh air and that pollutants residue in the community. It must be noted that the developer has failed to meet and consult the neighbours on the proposed plans.
- 49.65% of the respondents are worried over food and beverage related noise control at site, and the absence of clear operating guidelines on the use of facilities and time control of activities at the catering and commercial facilities (64.34%).
- 81.82% of the respondents are concerning over delivery of the promised public space. The promised public spaces are absent from the land lease conditions and may not be delivered. As seen throughout Hong Kong, what is promised in terms of public gains including public space, accessibility, public recreation, alfresco dining, etc, fails to be delivered. What controls will be applied by the Town Planning Board to ensure promised made are delivered?
- 86.71% of the respondents are upset with the lack of consultation and the failure to present and discuss the plans with nearby residents. Residents received insufficient information regarding the revised plans. Public consultation should have been conducted to provide clear information and to gain a better understanding. Moreover, the developer should introduce and discuss the proposal with the District Council before the deadline for comments under the Town Planning Ordinance for the captioned application.
- In the survey conducted, there is a demand for assessment of sustainability performance in terms of creating a ‘public realm’ which delivers a holistic and positive impact for occupants and neighbours. Reference is made to HKGBC BEAM Plus Neighborhood. More than 70% of respondents suggest civic spaces to be used by non-profit organizations for community activities (76.92%), promoting gender equality by introducing ‘Gender Mainstreaming checklist’ into the design and construction of the development (70.63%), and by adopting pet-friendly (78.32%) and bicycle-friendly measures (77.62%) for the site as well as the connections with the West Kowloon Cultural District to Jordan, Yau Ma Tei and Tai Kwok Tsui.
- 93.01% of respondents support environmental protection initiatives, such as energy saving, water use and reuse, using recyclable building materials, installing waste management and treatment facilities, etc. To implement initiatives to improve energy efficiency, environmental performance and achieving Government’s energy saving plan by 2025, all new development should have set goal to achieve HKGBC Beam Plus.
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]designinghongkong.com
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。
Thank you those who participated in our online survey!
A public opinion survey was conducted from 18-20 September 2020. More than 70% of the 813 respondents objected to steel railings and preferred a simple concrete bridge. 103 local Shek O residents voted, with 70 objecting to steel railings. Overall, only 21.3% of the respondents supported steel railing designs (option #2 or #3). However, 138 people offered suggestions explaining that they preferred:
- A design which blends in better with the natural environment by using a granite stone finishing or softening the blue colour;
- Widen the bridge and approach paths, and add space for safe gathering, photo taking;
- Enable any water to run off quickly and ensure a non-slippery bridge deck;
- Soft solar lights/ LED lights to ignite during nights;
- Improved signage about the bridge could be considered.
- Enable people to put ‘lover locks’
- Heart shape openings in the structure
- Photo spots / observation areas (bridge is too narrow for photo taking)
- Seating, shade and washroom in the vicinity
- LED lighting to make it photogenic at night
- Dim solar lights along the bridge and path
- Railings to assist elderly to walk to and from the bridge
- Graffiti wall
- Signage with information about the history of ‘Shek O lovers’ bridge
- A coin operated telescope
Other proposed options:
4. 選擇柔和的太陽能燈/ LED燈在夜間點亮；
Earlier this year, we proposed the idea of the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail. Then, we suggested 18 proposals for improvement along the trail and asked public to comment. Today, we announce the survey results so far.
Respondents in a recent survey identified two more projects to improve the “Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail.” A wider pavement is needed at Deep Water Bay where people are forced onto the road, and respondents asked for the promised public access through the Central Military Dock when there is no vessel in town.
Besides the additional projects, valuable comments were given. While everyone agrees on connecting the different promenades, pavements and trails into a route close to the shore, some raised concerns over safeguarding the natural environment (minimizing concrete) and making sure that the route is safe for all.
Now the hard work starts. We have to convince the different Government departments to undertake the work required.
Fore more detail 更詳細的結果: