Imagine a central area with a rich street culture and trees

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am

Why can't Hong Kong have a downtown area - an area for people to enjoy while absorbing the unique vibes of this modern, cosmopolitan city?

Unlike most great cities, Hong Kong lacks a centre for the people, where one can be without honking cars, speedy delivery trucks and polluting transport - a place that can have a rich street culture, aesthetic street furniture, green trees and shrubs.

This vision is not only feasible but also necessary for the collective sanity of the people. This holistic vision adds a voice to the current plethora of design proposals being put forward to save or renovate what is left of Hong Kong's central cultural urban treasures.

There are some great proposals dealing with the street markets; the former Central Police Station; Soho's pedestrianisation; the emerging Victoria Harbour waterfront; the old police married quarters; and street terraces here and there.

Why not unite all of these proposed plans into one greater scheme that links them all together?

Anyone who has recently visited the old police station can be excused for drooling over the potential of this historic and majestic structure. Hong Kong could finally have an open piazza with an al fresco cafe culture and seating around a central fountain under the shade of those great trees. It would be surrounded by those impressive colonial buildings in a central, car-free zone.

Imagine a plan that linked the old police station with Soho via a pedestrian bridge that crosses Old Bailey Street into a pedestrianised Staunton Street. Soho would then be linked to the old police married quarters with a pedestrian bridge over Aberdeen Street; Bridges Street and all the small, quaint neighbouring streets and beautiful stairways could be linked together with an aesthetic uniformity - and limited traffic.

From Soho, green corridors could be created along existing streets that run down to the street markets. These corridors would be for pedestrians only and could run down to the waterfront. This would generate huge revenue from tourism and may well help Hong Kong become the world city it so aspires to be.

Bobsy Gaia, Sheung Wan