Enhancing the harbourfront and putting the spaces to good use for public enjoyment
Kowloon East is being transformed into another core business district in Hong Kong. Since its establishment in 2012, the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) under the Development Bureau (DEVB) has been committed to enhancing the connectivity, improving the environment and releasing the development potential of the area. In view of general public support for enhancing the public spaces along the harbourfront, we have further injected vibrancy into the unused sites beneath Kwun Tong Bypass and open them for use by the public and organisations.
Yesterday, I officiated at the Opening of Fly the Flyover Sites 02 and 03 (FF02 and FF03) cum City Dress-up Public Art Competition “Flyover Fantasy” Award Presentation Ceremony at the Kwun Tong Promenade, and took the opportunity to experience the new landscape of the Kwun Tong Business Area (KTBA).
More than 200 events held
Situated at Hoi Bun Road, Fly the Flyover Site 01 (FF01), FF02 and FF03 beneath Kwun Tong Bypass occupy an area of about 8 500 square metres in the vicinity of the EKEO. Since the opening of FF01 in 2013, a host of organisations have held as many as 235 events of various nature, including street dance competitions, band performances, outdoor movie shows, carnivals, art workshops, running events, cycling races, fashion shows and bazaars, attracting more than 210 000 participants in total. All of these are testimony to the outcome of our effective use of public spaces.
To open more spaces to the public for taking part in different kinds of activities, the EKEO has extended the concept in utilising this venue to two other sites beneath Kwun Tong Bypass. Apart from an open stage and outdoor open spaces, the newly completed FF02 and FF03 have a gallery and three multi-purpose rooms for different organisations to bring new experiences to the public. Part of the sites is used as urban farms to promote green living. There are also a restaurant, food kiosks, a pop-up store, a cookery space, etc. We can stroll along the harbourfront and have a great place for leisure activities.
The EKEO earlier invited non-profit making organisations to submit operation proposals, and is now partnering with the HKALPS Limited to operate and manage the three Fly the Flyover venues. I hope that the HKALPS Limited will inject more creativity into the sites for art and cultural purposes, so as to draw more people to enjoy and participate in the activities held there.
Integrating art into life
While attending the opening ceremony yesterday, I noticed that artistic murals under the theme of “Urban Totem” had been created on some of the columns of Kwun Tong Bypass. The murals fully demonstrate the characteristics of Kowloon East by featuring the old cityscape and industrial products in the past, as well as integrating new elements such as culture, green living, the cruise terminal into the district. I believe that they will become a new attraction at the Kwun Tong Promenade. These murals are the winning entry of the “Flyover Fantasy” stream of the City Dress-up Public Art Competition jointly organised by the DEVB, the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, the Hong Kong Institute of Planners and the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design. The competition is one of the events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
According to the architect and designer Jo LO, representative of the winning team, they hope to relive memories of the good old days of Hong Kong through artistic creation. The Kwun Tong harbourfront used to be a busy cargo working area. With the passage of time, however, it has become a beautiful promenade and an open space. He believes every district has its own unique history and culture, and suggests that similar activities be held in other districts so as to inject vibrancy into the community. I could not agree more.
Revitalising back alleys and beautifying the city
At present, some back alleys in the KTBA have not been fully utilised. This year, the EKEO has once again invited local art groups, artists and students from different backgrounds to take part in the Back Alley Project@Kowloon East. Under the theme of “DARE to dream”, they throw themselves into creating paintings on the back alley walls so as to integrate art into life and improve the local environment.
We respect the industrial culture of Kowloon East and its development background. During the continuous evolution of our city, however, certain choices between old and new are inevitable and some controversies may arise in the community. Nevertheless, the Government hopes to do its best to engage the public in building consensus, so as to introduce more creative elements in Kowloon East and together make Hong Kong a better place to live and work.
I am pleased to see that the former Kwun Tong Public Cargo Working Area and the underutilised spaces beneath Kwun Tong Bypass have become a pleasant, green and vibrant waterfront for public enjoyment. Also, the back alleys in the district have gradually undergone an innovative facelift and integrated with the existing pedestrian network to achieve diversion during peak hours. I hope that those working in Kowloon East or those visiting the district on holidays will all be happy to continue to unleash their creativity and enjoy the facilities and open spaces there.
17 September, 2017