Expand green park at West Kowloon cultural hub's harbourfront area

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 October, 2011, 12:00am


On visiting the West Kowloon Cultural District exhibition at Kowloon Park, citizen advocacy group Hong Kong Alternatives (which wants a cultural green park) had three criticisms of the design by Foster + Partners.

These flaws are connected with the government's lack of long-term vision when it comes to the project.

First, the design underestimates the importance of passengers on the high-speed trains from the mainland to the future economic growth of Hong Kong.

The high-speed-rail terminal beneath the cultural district is expected to handle more than 10,000 passengers per hour on peak days once the links to Guangzhou and other major cities are complete. A terminal square should replace the proposed passage from the terminal to the cultural district. This can be done by removing a residential block and the proposed residential centre.

Also, there should be two cross-harbour tunnels with light rail transit systems to enable the rapid dispersal of express rail passengers and to make it easier for visitors to reach the cultural hub. The funding for this should be included in the budget for the high-speed rail link.

Second, reserving the strip of land along the northern edge of the site for residential use will become a permanent source of social disharmony. Removing these buildings from the plan will provide adequate space for the express rail terminal square and make it possible to expand the strip of green park along the harbourfront and the incorporate of a good-sized bicycle path.

Finally, the design has neglected the commercial potential and value of the site's underground space. Excavation could be as deep as 30 metres and many of the features above ground could be relocated underground.

A transport hub could be constructed, providing the government and cultural district authority with income.

The government should not allocate 43 per cent of the total buildable gross area of the site for residential (20 per cent), hotel (8 per cent) and office (15 per cent) buildings.

Having residential buildings in a public park is totally incompatible with the environment and will eventually lead to social conflict.

We urge citizens to express their views before the consultation period concludes at the end of this month.

K. N. Wai, on behalf of Hong Kong Alternatives