New market won't make a splash

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am


Those hoping to take a relaxing dip in the middle of Central will be disappointed. The historic Central Market is unlikely to have a swimming pool after it is revitalised, the Urban Renewal Authority said yesterday as it announced the team of architects who will design the project.

AGC Design, which proposed the pool idea in an earlier public consultation, was selected by the authority to be the designer.

Quinn Law Yee-kwan, managing director of the authority, said putting a pool in the market building on Des Vouex Road Central was 'not a mainstream view' - although some people working nearby did say they would like to be able to have a dip during their lunch hour or after work.

The design firm was one of four teams that offered proposals to get the public talking about how to revamp the 72-year-old building.

Law said the winning team stood out because it best met the project's requirements. 'The company has undertaken to give a great deal of its resources to the project and presented a comprehensive mix of international expertise that will enable it to deliver a design that is in line with what the public wants,' Law said.

AGC Design has teamed up with, among others, architectural designer Arata Isozaki from Japan and Wasa, an American practice that reuses buildings made from reinforced concrete - the material that was used to build the Central Market.

Vincent Ng Wing-shun, director of AGC Design, said his team would work out a completely new design based on public views. The team would have to work with the future business operator on the mix of uses, he said. 'But we will bear in mind that the public have made it very clear they don't want another luxury shopping mall and chain stores,' Ng said. 'There could be some local-style shops and even dai pai dong,' he said, adding that the layout of the meat and fish stalls would be kept.

The authority has budgeted HK$500 million for the revitalisation. It will invite interested businesses to submit proposals in the next two months.

Cheng Lai-king, a Central district councillor and a member of the authority's advisory committee for the project, said the market structure, formerly a wet market, needed a great deal of strengthening. 'A swimming pool could overload the building, or it may need a lot more money to make it possible,' she said.

Built in 1939, the Central Market, a piece of Bauhaus architecture, was then the Canton Bazaar, and its design was based on the London County Council by-laws of 1915. It stopped operating in 2003.