Finalists present visions of HK harbourside bliss

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2007, 12:00am

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Sipping a cup of Chinese tea by the Central waterfront or strolling in a 'Central Park of Hong Kong' in the city's financial hub could become reality if the ideas put forward in a harbour-front design competition are adopted.


They are among the visions of finalists in the competition, organised by Designing Hong Kong, an organisation established to help reach a consensus on sustainable harbour planning among the public, business sector and the government.


The Central Waterfront Design Competition was launched in May as part of the public consultation on the new Central waterfront, with prizes of HK$1 million. It attracted 82 entries from Hong Kong and the mainland, as well as Indonesia, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada.


Three teams from the US and one from Shanghai were selected as finalists while a local design was awarded an honourable mention by 11 jurors yesterday.


One of the finalists, Jack Sidener from Hawaii, impressed the jury with his 'nostalgic' old Hong Kong design entitled 'Sky for Dragon, Earth for People'.


He proposed that most of the site be developed as a low-rise urban district oriented to street life, with high-rise residential and commercial towers as a 'sky dragon'.


'His design is like the waterfront of Sheung Wan and Wan Chai before reclamation,' Leslie Lu, jury vice-chairman and head of architecture at the University of Hong Kong, said.


'People would be able to go to Chinese restaurants and shop around in the area.'


Green concepts were also hailed by the jury.


Another finalist, 'Amphibian Carpet' by Lewis Chui, Selah Au, Hins Cheung and Bart Chui from the US, proposed turning the usually hard edge of the waterfront into a coastal wetland by planting mangroves and other aquatic plants, which apart from providing greenery would act as a natural cushion between land and sea during bad weather.


There would be ground-floor courtyards, rooftop gardens and public spaces for people to go to relax.


'It could become Hong Kong's Central Park, like Central Park in New York and Hyde Park [in London],' Professor Lu said.


Jury chairman Essy Baniassad, a professor from Chinese University's Department of Architecture, said the area would be in sharp contrast to the skyscrapers behind and would give a very strong 'green' message.


Edward Yung, Kipp Edick and Chris Hillyard from the US also had a similar idea in their 'Hong Kong Waterfront' project, featuring subterranean development with extensive parkland cover.


Professor Lu said the scheme successfully connected the harbour with the older part of Hong Kong so more people would be attracted to the waterfront.


Gregory Yager, Chinyao Chen, Sujata Govada and Dick Grove from Shanghai came up with a 'very practical' design entitled 'The Golden Crescent - Envisioning a Grand Promenade Along Hong Kong's Central Waterfront'.


It comprised large gardens and mixed development for business and the community.


Local design 'Coastal Play', which connects Admiralty and Central with a multi-functional waterfront promenade - from architects Jan Lai Kwok-yin, Kenny Koo Gin, Jim Chan Tsin-ching, and Grace Ng Ming-shan - was awarded an honourable mention.


The finalists and the honorable mention entrant will all be awarded HK$60,000.


The jury will announce the winner in November. The winning design will be submitted to the government for consideration.


The models of the four finalists will be exhibited in shopping malls this year, on dates yet to be fixed.


The finalists


Entry 145 'Amphibian Carpet'


Lewis Chui, US


The submission was found to be 'a very strong concept with good overall impact'. Some jury members saw the design as 'Central Park for Hong Kong', and liked the idea of an open, green park on the water's edge. The submission was described as good and clear, and the 'green carpet was seen as a 'provocative idea' that was well integrated with the surrounding buildings


Entry 77 'Hong Kong Waterfront'


Edward Yung, Colombia University, US


The jury called entry 77 'the most successful in working with connectivity'. The use of courtyards was recognised as being both a dynamic design concept as well as a good way to introduce ventilation


Entry 230 'Sky for Dragon, Earth for People'


Jack Sidener, Hawaii, US


The jury found the entry 'a real delight' that offered a 'simple and clear idea and acknowledged the fundamentals of urbanism'. It was described as nostalgic, harking back to old Hong Kong


Entry 247 'The Golden Crescent'


Gregory Yager, Shanghai


This design created a potentially 'wonderful, vibrant and diversified waterfront for Hong Kong' according to the jury. It was described as having a 'nice urban design structure with appropriate scale; a suitable amount of diversity and distribution of open space'.


Entry 120 'Coastal Play - an intervention between city and waterfront'


(Not a finalist but received an honourable mention)


Jan Lai Kwok-yin, Hong Kong


The jury found this design to describe 'a very interesting experience of the waterfront promenade' with 'a nice integration of different spaces with diverse sizes and characters'.


SOURCE: DESIGNING HONG KONG.COM