A new spin on the future of Kai Tak
Thousands of people could soon be getting airborne again at the former Kai Tak airport site, where architects have proposed building a horizontal Ferris wheel to rival the giant London Eye wheel and Paris' Eiffel Tower as a city icon.
Intrernational architecture firm Aedas envisages the wheel, 100 metres up a leaning tower, would house bars and restaurants, with a lift taking visitors to an observation deck 100 metres higher.
The project, which Aedas calls Hong Kong Spin, would cost between HK$1.5 and $2 billion to build, it says.
Nigel Reading, the senior associate who came up with the design, described it as the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye 'rolled into one'.
Its shape would combine the Chinese character for middle and the Greek letter phi, standing for symmetry, and would represent the fusion of eastern and western cultures to be found in Hong Kong.
The Town Planning Board envisages a maximum building height of 175 metres at the former airport site in Victoria Harbour.
However, Kyran Sze, Aedas' Hong Kong managing director, said the government had responded positively to the proposal. A feasibility study has yet to be carried out. Aedas' local projects include the Mandarin Landmark, Skyplaza at the airport, the Disneyland MTR station at Sunny Bay and Alexandra House retail.
Mr Reading said some of the energy to run the attraction could be generated using wind turbines.
A Tourism Commission spokeswoman said it would keep an open mind about the proposal.
Wong Kam-sing, chairman of the Institute of Architects' board of local affairs, said Aedas' idea merited public discussion. 'Take the successful example of the London Eye. No one commissioned the architect to build something like that. It was the architect who thought that London needed the design and suggested it. At last, it materialised and became world-famous,' he said.
Bernard Lim Wan-fung, architecture professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the public was against imposing tall structures on harbourfront sites such as Kai Tak. 'We should think about whether Hong Kong really needs to build an icon,' he said. 'Isn't our Victoria Harbour our icon that we should try our best to protect and make more charming?'
It is not the first time the construction of a Ferris wheel has been proposed on the former airport site. In 2000, the Territory Development Department issued plans to site a Ferris wheel at the tip of the old runway.
In 2001, Wharf (Holdings) proposed building a 75-metre-high Ferris wheel at Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Ready for takeoff
Chinese character 'junt' (middle)
Greek letter 'phil' (symmetry)
Skystage ; Piazza ; Podium ; Skypods ; Skywheel