Old quarry now green oasis for estate residents

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 January, 2012, 12:00am


A HK$70 million green park has been created out of barren rocks in a former quarry in East Kowloon. It will lower temperatures by up to five degrees Celsius in summer.

The community park, adjoining three new public housing estates called Choi Fook, Choi Ying and Choi Tak, was difficult to build because of the quarry's landscape, said Ada Fung Yin-suen, deputy director of housing.

'The site is elongated, with narrow strips of land and a huge, barren piece of granite bedrock without a soil layer. It was very difficult to grow plants, and to plan the open space and building locations,' Fung said.

There were challenges because it was the first time the Housing Department turned a quarry into a public park, she said.

The 1.36 hectare park on Choi Hei Road serves the 35,000 people who moved into the three housing estates between 2008 and last year.

The quarry near Choi Hung MTR station closed in the 1970s and public housing was proposed for the site in 2002.

To overcome the hurdle to growing plants, officials had first to remove almost a metre of the top rock layer and then fill it in with soil.

About 90 mature trees were saved from the Kwun Tong swimming pool, which is being redeveloped, and were transplanted to the quarry park, providing shade along a 660 metre path.

A 4,000 square metre open space has become a lawn, but trees cannot be grown in this area because of the underground drainage network sited there.

'The extensive greening is important because without it, the place would be four to five degrees hotter in summer,' Fung said.

Planters had even been placed inside the public toilets.

About 100 cut-scarred granite rocks, which are the only signs that the park was once a quarry, have been placed around the park, with signs providing geological information. Rocks showing natural weathering and erosion are also on display.

Fung said guided tours would be organised to help people understand the history of the quarry and the geological features of the area.

The park has a series of meandering footpaths to overcome the steep gradients between the platforms created for the former quarry, and to link up recreational facilities, including a tai chi area, observation deck and foot-massage paths.