The East Coast Park and… a Skatepark? 東岸公園—滑板活動的新聚腳點

The East Coast Park and… a Skatepark?

A New Approach to Public Space Along the Harbourfront


By Erik Thorbeck (

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.

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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.

The Bowl at TKO Park.  Unloved, and under-utilized.  

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!

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對於東岸公園忽然成為了滑板聖地,滑板群體可能會覺得不足為奇。東岸公園平滑的地面,加上維多利亞港的美景,成為了滑板愛好者夢寐以求的海濱公共空間。從七歲起便移居香港並成長的本地滑板手及攝影師Ollie Rodgers表示,「大部份的公眾地方都不容許滑板。一直以來我們只能在柴灣的滑板場或摩理臣山道遊樂場等零碎的場地踩滑板。」儘管港島有不少平坦的公共空間,但基於嚴格的規矩,滑板愛好者一直只能碰運氣到不同的公共空間進行活動,希望不會被驅趕。「很高興相關部門接納滑板在公共空間出現。現在甚至在海濱提供一個合適不同年齡、性別、能力滑板手的場地,讓我們能聚首一堂,互相交流。」






西班牙巴塞隆那的Born Skate Plaza是一個典型例子,即使簡單設計都能夠滿足到滑板手的需求。



社區的意見和參與對滑板公園的設計和運作至關重要。滑板場不但可以作為社區的聚腳點,吸引更多元化的活動在公共空間中出現,更可以減少其他公共空間與行人路的空間衝突,並善用社區中未充分利用的空間。珍貴的海濱空間令普羅大眾並不樂見空間規劃的失誤。溫哥華自2005年建設了第一個「滑板廣場」(Skate Plaza)後,每五年就會對滑板社群進行調查,了解他們的需求。我們認為海濱事務委員會亦可參考溫哥華的做法,確保有足夠的空間、資源去將滑板納入香港的海濱設計,同時減少他們在公共空間對其他使用者的滋擾,建立與滑板共存的公共空間。


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