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Urban planning

Could Central become the new green lung of Hong Kong?

Soraya Somarathne shows how an upcoming Murray Road office tower and the Chater and Lambeth Walk gardens could be linked with a potential pedestrianised strip, to create a tropical paradise in the heart of the city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 September, 2017, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 September, 2017, 6:46pm

There are two exciting urban developments under way in Central – the turning of a Murray Road commercial plot into a landmark office tower and the potential pedestrianisation of Des Voeux Road into a “Paris-style” boulevard. The plans present a rare opportunity to breathe life into a densely built-up part of town.

Both projects intersect Chater Garden, a small but important green node in the city centre. With a new landmark tower and a reinvented pedestrian boulevard taking root alongside Chater Garden, could all three intertwine to make downtown Central the new green lung of Hong Kong?

The new green zone so created would run along a pedestrianised Des Voeux Road, pass through Chater Garden and culminate at the base of the new tower on the Murray Road plot. The idea comes from connecting the planned pedestrian boulevard to two existing gardens: Chater Garden and Lambeth Walk Rest Garden.

Lambeth Walk Rest Garden is a little-known green pocket opposite Chater Garden and adjacent to the Murray Road plot. By extending this garden through the planned office tower at ground level, a lush tropical garden at the base of the tower could be created.

Reinvigorate Hong Kong with more pedestrian-only zones

Unlike Des Voeux Road and Chater Garden, this garden would be covered and shaded by the tower above, resulting in a bigger reduction in temperature, with funnelled breezes and filtered air moving through the space. This tropical garden would operate as the climax of the green zone as well as the main entrance to the proposed landmark tower.

The site of the landmark tower is pedestrianised on all four sides at ground level and via walkways above, creating great potential to attract a very large throughput.

In terms of marketability, arriving into a tropical landscape would be an experience in itself

In terms of marketability, arriving into a tropical landscape would be an experience in itself, unique and memorable. From a commercial standpoint, subtly integrated facilities, such as food and beverage outlets and amenities, as well as public seating both inside and alfresco, could be lucrative. A serviced tropical garden of this nature would be a popular dining destination.

From an environmental point of view, an extension of green space and reduction in traffic would improve air quality and lower temperatures locally. Varieties of flora and fauna could thrive, making the site even more visually stimulating and creating a unique destination in Central.

Such visions of wide tree-lined boulevards, lush green parks, fresh breezes and shaded tropical gardens may well plant interesting seeds in the minds of developers looking to set the next big trend.

Soraya Somarathne is a UK-registered architect and director of Studio Soraya Limited, a boutique architecture and interior design studio based in Hong Kong. See: www.studio-soraya.com