Urban planning challenge

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 November, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 November, 2001, 12:00am

To affirm his supremacy, an emperor during the Tang dynasty designed his city Changan (Xian), in northwest China, so that his palace was positioned in the centre of town, high above everyone.

Today's cities may not be built to reflect the power of one person, but design plays a crucial role in construction. Urban planners make certain of this.

Forty-eight students from 12 secondary schools will learn more about urban planning in the Design Concept Competition organised by the Young Planners Group of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners. Each team of four students will submit a plan on transforming the West Kowloon reclamation area into an entertainment, cultural and arts district.

Asked why the competition - also being run for professional planners who will no doubt do a better job - is open to students, C. K. Tsang, organiser of the competition, said: '[Chief Executive] Tung Chee-hwa has criticised Hong Kong's youth for lacking creativity. But we don't believe this.'

Also, because the design of cities affects how everyone lives, the institute believes in encouraging the public to play a more active role in such matters.

Getting secondary school students to think about urban planning will encourage others to express their ideas about their ideal living environment.

The 48 young planners will have to consider problems such as whether or not to use walkovers, how to change a barren piece of land facing Victoria Harbour into an entertainment area, and what they will call this new district.

The winners of both competitions will be announced in March next year.