Adopting an incremental approach to develop the Victoria Harbour promenade
The harbourfront promenade connecting Tamar and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) was officially open to the public earlier. Today, I have invited Mr NG Wing-shun, Vincent, Chairman of the Harbourfront Commission, and Mr HO Man-yiu, Ivan, Chairman of the Task Force on Harbourfront Developments on Hong Kong Island, to visit the promenade and share with us their experience in developing the new harbourfront. We also chatted with two young artists about the artworks they tailor-made for the promenade and the inspirations behind them.
Total length of the Victoria Harbour promenade extended to 23km
This year, two kilometers of new harbourfront promenade were opened to the public in different districts on both sides of the Victoria harbour, extending the total length of the harbourfront promenade by about 10 percent to 23 kilometers. With the opening of the Tamar-HKCEC section and together with the section near the Western Harbour Crossing completed earlier this year, the 4.5-kilometre harbourfront promenade stretching from Shek Tong Tsui to the HKCEC is now fully connected, boasting itself the longest harbourfront promenade on either side of the harbour by far. Vincent says that once he took an hour or more to stroll along the entire promenade and was captivated by the magnificent views of the Victoria Harbour, just as other visitors chilling at the promenade did. Ivan also tells us that he and his family are frequent visitors of the harbourfront and he encourages the public to visit the harbourfront more often to experience the characteristics of each promenade section.
Harbourfront promenade opens ahead of schedule with further enhancement on designs to be made
The new section of the harbourfront, about 560 meters long and six meters wide, has become a hotspot for running and fishing ever since its opening in October. Due to ongoing construction works, hoardings are still in place along the promenade for the moment. They will be removed once the works are completed and the site so vacated will become a part of the harbourfront promenade. To dovetail with the “incremental approach" advocated by the Government and the Harbourfront Commission, and after discussions with the departments concerned, the Harbour Office of the Development Bureau has arranged to first complete and open the waterfront section of this site for early public enjoyment about 15 months ahead of the original schedule.
In developing our harbourfront through conventional large-scale works project model, it will take several years from planning, design and construction to completion, and the effectiveness can only be reviewed after works are completed. By adopting an “incremental approach”, however, harbourfront sites can be released earlier for public enjoyment, and we can consider the public opinion on the design of the promenade and integrate them into the design of the next stage development, thus allowing us to create a space and facilities that better meet the needs of the public. As suggested by Vincent and Ivan, harbourfront development is an on-going process and given that public needs change along with time, harbourfront designs might as well be more flexible.
Neon lighting to spread the Christmas cheer
The “opened first” promenade adopts a simplistic design, while interesting facilities and installations are displayed and will be renewed periodically in collaborations with local designers to enhance the uniqueness and attractiveness of the promenade. With Christmas around the corner, two small sets of neon lighting are installed at the Tamar-HKCEC section of the promenade. We hope that the themed design of Santa Claus, elf footprints and a jumbo 3D pop-up card featuring the beautiful view of the Victoria Harbour will infuse the harbourfront with a stronger Christmas ambience. Ms Sharmaine KWAN, the designer of the exhibits, notes that neon lighting has long been a significant part of the Hong Kong culture. She hopes to create a more colourful Victoria Harbour with her artwork of neon lighting and believes that the scenery will be particularly spectacular when the lights are on, giving visitors an even more delightful experience.
Interactive installations themed on “home”
You will find two transparent bricks paved in the middle of the promenade near the landing steps with models of Hong Kong’s old-fashioned homes inside. Not far away, you will also find another piece of artwork, in the form of an “old-fashioned” television set. Both exhibits are created by the designer Mr TAI Yau-on (On Tai), who says that by adopting “home” as the theme for both sets of works, he wants to bring back the memories of old Hong Kong, such as doing homework on a folding table and watching television while having dinner. I am especially interested in the small-sized television set model on the railings on the promenade because it captures the glamourous views of the Victoria Harbour on the “screen”. Meanwhile, by piling up two large-sized television set models, it becomes convenient for wheelchair users and children to pose with them, highlighting the designer’s care and empathy in facilitating a diverse and inclusive society.
“Limited edition” concepts to bring different experiences
In the future, we look forward to identifying more harbourfront space to organise various short-term projects with the local community, so as to create a vibrant and colourful harbourfront. Vincent says that the “limited edition” concept aims at bringing different installations, designs, and activities to the promenade at different times to allow more artists and designers to tell their stories of the Victoria Harbour through their works. More importantly, unscheduled changes of exhibits will bring pleasant surprises to citizens and tourists alike.
Victoria Harbour is a natural asset for all the people of Hong Kong. Connecting the harbourfront promenade does more than linking up the walking trails, it also provides some leisure space for us all to enjoy the impeccable view of Victoria Harbour. It is our wish to listen to public views, as we always do, and collaborate with the community to adopt designs inspired by daily life, to create a more comfortable harbourfront environment step by step.
22 December, 2019