Designs for Central Market unveiled

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 April, 2011, 12:00am


Four very different designs - ranging from the minimalist to the radical - were unveiled yesterday for the 72-year-old Central Market building.

But Hongkongers will be asked to 'interpret and develop' the final design with the Urban Renewal Authority, instead of just picking one from the four.

David Lung Ping-yee, chairman of an advisory committee for the Central Market revitalisation project, said: 'The four schemes visualise the views expressed by the community in past forums and questionnaires.

'This is a prime site and we hope residents will help us work towards a final plan.'

A public forum will be held a week tomorrow at Caritas Community Hall on Caine Road, at which the four architectural teams will explain their plans for the market.

An exhibition will run this month and 4,000 questionnaires will be collected, asking people whether they would prefer the building to retain most of its original features or be more broadly redesigned.

The four teams suggested similar uses of the building, based on feedback from a previous survey.

These include open space, shops, art galleries, leisure facilities and cheap food outlets. But they took different approaches towards conservation of the structure.

Two recommended alterations and the others were less invasive.

Barrie Ho Chow-lai said his team's 'Urban Cocoon' would see the demolition of about 60 per cent of the internal structures. It would keep the shell, the two grand staircases and several market stalls.

He said the building's heritage should not be 'mummified', adding: 'We boldly suggest removing some internal parts to widen the atrium for more natural light and adding three storeys for different use.'

Vincent Ng Wing-shun, of AGC Design, which designed the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, said his team's 'Urban Floating Oasis' would feature a swimming pool.

'I remember an old lady at the forum said she hoped there would be a pool for young people. 'Why not?' I thought, and people have said they want recreation facilities anyway,' Ng said.

The pool and a gym would be housed in a new storey, supported by structural light tubes that would help improve air ventilation.

But more respect to the building's original Bauhaus design is emphasised by Kyran Sze, executive director of Aedas, which designed the terminus of the cross-border high-speed railway at West Kowloon.

Sze's 'Central Gateway' proposes to keep key elements of the Bauhaus, including a large proportion of the market stalls and the general floor layout.

'The market is a starting point of the Mid-Levels escalators.

'We suggest improving the site connectivity by creating new entrances and an internal corridor to better link Des Voeux Road and Queen's Road Central,' he said.

Britain-based TFP Farrells also advocated a more conservative approach. 'The market is a welldesigned building as it stands,' said Gavin Erasmus, the firm's director. 'The original layout is very flexible, providing first-class space. It doesn't need any addition.'

The firm's design features a reinstated market on the second floor, an open-air courtyard garden and a mosaic of coloured glazing.

But Woo Pui-leng, an architecture professor at Chinese University who has studied the Bauhaus, said she did not agree with the idea of the authority relying on the public to make a decision on how far the new design should go.

'The market was saved several years ago because people wanted to conserve it. The authority should take the responsibility to make the decision,' Woo said.

Paul Zimmerman, chief executive of advocacy group Designing Hong Kong, which will organise its own forum on April 16, said more discussions may be needed if a more dramatic design for the market building was favoured.

The four design teams have each been paid more than HK$1 million in consultancy fees.

The Urban Renewal Authority will launch a tender in a few months to appoint an architect to work on the final plan, which is scheduled to be put before the Town Planning Board early next year.

A radical approach

Urban Cocoon

Barrie Ho Architecture Interiors

60% of interior structures to be demolished to widen atrium

A new basement for amphitheatre

Two additional upper storeys for performance spaces and social enterprises

A greenhouse for butterflies

UFO* & The New Market Place

AGC Design

A swimming pool and gym in a new storey made of structural light tubes

A market place with a dai pai dong, organic farms, galleries

20 green facilities, including rainwater recycling and solar hot-water system

Two storeys for public open space

* Urban Floating Oasis

A sympathetic approach...

Central Gateway


Characteristic market stalls and general layout to be kept

An interior walkway directly connecting to Queen?s Road Central and Des Voeux Road

Vertical greening on external wall

A new skylight atrium covering

Inspired by our heritage. Small changes making a big difference

TFP Farrells

Adaption of market stall partitions for public functions and shops

Bauhaus-style linear windows reinstalled with mosaic of coloured glazing

Open-air courtyard garden

Sunken walled garden on corner of Queen?s Road Central?s entrance