Waterfront green plan a winner with jury

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2007, 12:00am

A team of four young Hong Kong architects whose design for the Central waterfront has a 'green carpet' that integrates with the towering metropolis was named winner of a planning competition yesterday.

Picked from 82 entries from around the world, the jury said the team's submission was a bold vision that challenged present development practice and envisaged a Hong Kong with more breathing space.

The Planning Department said the future design of the Central waterfront, expected to be announced early next year, would take into account the results of the competition.

Called the 'Amphibian Carpet', the winning design sees the hard-edged city waterfront replaced with a mix of wetland and coastal development.

It envisages a massive grassland and green 'canopy' spaces covering most of the waterfront and environs, connecting the area to the city centre.

Lagoons and a wetland with diverse species of mangroves and wildlife would grace the coastline.

But the team said the waterfront area would not be reserved for conservation only - entertainment and commercial activities would also be encouraged in shopping malls, water theatres, farmers' markets, subway stations and cinemas.

'I am surprised at the result. We joined the competition because of our passion for Hong Kong,' said Bart Chui Yee-wai, from the winning team.

Mr Chui and his team members graduated as architects from the University of Hong Kong a few years ago and now work in the United States.

He said the team wanted to give something back to the city and offer residents more choices and a better quality of life.

'Concrete buildings with glass curtain walls do not necessarily belong in Central,' Mr Chui said, adding that a mixture of rural and urban activities on the waterfront could bring new forms of development.

Jury member Essy Baniassad, a professor in the architectural department at Chinese University, said most jury members picked the design because it featured large open spaces between the harbour and the commercial hub, a concept both bold and rare under current planning policy.

Vincent Ng Wing-shun, another jury member and former vice-president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, said the design was the most innovative and courageous among the four finalists.

'It brings nature to the hustling busy areas and offers us breathing space,' Mr Ng said.

Competition organiser Designing Hong Kong Harbour District awarded a HK$450,000 prize to the team. Finalists' models will be displayed at the International Finance Centre concourse until Monday.

Urban jungle

The creative minds behind the 'Amphibian Carpet' design say it attempts to challenge the traditional notion of urban planning, turning the inaccessible city waterfront into a coastal urban and wetland development