'Hong Kong Eye' planned for Central harbourfront

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 12:00am


The new-look Central harbourfront will boast a 60-metre-high observation wheel if a company that runs such wheels in several cities around the world has its way.

It would complement promenades, cafes and a maritime museum planned for the area.

The company and a partner will submit the proposal for a 'Hong Kong Eye' to the Harbourfront Commission today.

The Hall Organisation and Great City Attractions Global in Britain want to site the wheel on reclaimed land near piers No 9 and 10 for one to three years.

Great City Attractions Global runs similar wheels in several cities including Singapore, where its 165-metre Singapore Flyer is the world's tallest.

'The wheel will definitely become a focal point of the harbour, offering postcard photo opportunities. It will attract people to the harbourfront and can promote vibrancy both day and night,' the potential operators say in a paper to be presented to the commission.

Peter Wong Yiu-sun, an engineer and commission member, agreed.

'We need something other than just cafes on the waterfront. A wheel can add vibrancy to the area,' Wong said, adding that he did not see typhoons posing a safety problem to the metal-framed structure, which does not require ground works or foundations.

But another member, Paul Zimmerman, had reservations about a wheel occupying a huge site in the centre of the waterfront.

'It is immediately iconic, but it seems to me having a wheel in Hong Kong, after London and Singapore, is a bit 'me-too',' he said.

'It's a positive thing that people are starting to throw out ideas for the harbourfront, but I would hope for something more creative and outstanding.'

The would-be operators are eyeing about 3,000 square metres at the future Site 7, one of four on the Central harbourfront the government has planned for development under a public-private partnership. The site is currently zoned as open space.

The wheel, carrying 336 passengers at a time, would be lit with LED lighting and be open from 9am to midnight daily, the paper says. It would entertain 2,000 visitors on weekdays and 4,000 at weekends, the operators estimate.