Greens seek limits on atriums to make malls less bulky, wasteful

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 December, 2009, 12:00am

A green group has called for guidelines to limit the size of atriums and other big, wide-open spaces in shopping malls, pointing to one mall in Mong Kok where the 'lost' area was equal to a third of the total retail space.

Roy Tam Hoi-pong, head of Green Sense, said malls with such designs were environmentally unfriendly.

'They need a lot more air conditioning and their bulk can block air flow in the streets,' Tam said.

He pointed to Langham Place, saying the column of unused space at the centre of the Mong Kok mall extended to the 12th level, leading to a mammoth structure that blocked air flows.

The 12 levels of empty space amounted to 17,000 square metres which, under a different design, could have been occupied by shops. The wasted space was equivalent to 30 per cent of the total retail floor area, the group said. Under the practice notes issued by the Buildings Department, developers can exclude such empty spaces, or what it calls voids, from gross floor area.

The design at Langham Place has given the mall a larger site coverage - the percentage of the site area the building covers. Its coverage was 89 per cent, much bigger than the 65.8 per cent designated by law for a building of the same height. Buildings officials exercised their discretion to approve the mall design.