A harbourfront promenade with special features along the way
I wrote in My Blog last Sunday that the promenade between Shek Tong Tsui and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) had been opened to the public, and it is the longest promenade of the Victoria Harbour so far. Today, I will continue to exchange views on the design of waterfront public open spaces with 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. We will also listen to views and suggestions from the public and tourists on our harbourfront facilities.
Design with emphasis on accessibility
The promenade stretching from Tamar to the HKCEC is about 560 metres long and six metres wide. To align with the "incremental approach" advocated by the Government and the Harbourfront Commission, it has been opened to the public ahead of the original schedule in October, while the remaining construction works in the open space are still in progress. The whole project is expected to be fully completed in early 2021. The engineering design of the project is under the charge of Mr SUEN Chi-hang, Kevin, Senior Project Manager of the Architectural Services Department. According to Kevin, with its narrow width, this section serves mainly as a “connector” between the Tamar Park in the west and the HKCEC in the east. He says that the design also caters for south-north connection by creating a number of entrances along the way to enhance accessibility from the land to the waterfront.
“FunScape”, a fun space for families
Kevin says, an activity zone called “FunScape” is under construction in the west of the new promenade. Different from traditional children playgrounds that focus on hardware facilities, the FunScape emphasises on landscape designs of undulating lawns, fitted with tunnels to provide activity areas for children. There will be pavilions and benches on both sides for shade and rest, as well as viewing hillocks overlooking the harbour, which are ideal for small group gathering. The FunScape will also feature a green corridor for leisurely strolls, performances and arts activities. The multi-functional design aims at giving all visitors a happy time at the harbourfront.
Special features along the way
The Victoria Harbour will be lined with over 10 kilometers of new promenades on both sides in the coming 10 years. Compared with the single-package design, I believe that we should let urban designers unleash their creativity and come up with unique space designs according to the geographical environments and the needs of localities, so as to make each section of our promenades special. Taking the longest existing promenade as an example, the stretch of 4.5 kilometer is full of special features. Preferences vary from person to person. Vincent shares that he likes the Central District Promenade where the Hong Kong Observation Wheel stands, as it provides flexible functional spaces, which enable the promenade to keep surprising visitors with new programmes and to stay attractive all year round.
Ivan prefers the promenade between the Western Wholesale Food Market in Shek Tong Tsui and the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park, because he often plays with his son there. As for me, it is the Fung Mat Road Harbourfront Area in Sai Ying Pun opened to the public earlier this year. This harbourfront area has tunnel mazes similar to those of the former Shek Lei Pui Playground where I used to play when I was small. These tunnel mazes bring up a lot of childhood memories, as I received bruises and braces, and had great fun playing in the playground as a child.
Happy time for visitors
At the new promenade we saw many local people and tourists strolling, fishing, picnicking and taking pictures. Michal, a tourist from the Czech Republic, says he is very fond of this promenade, as it is such a cozy and peaceful place amid the busy town centre of Hong Kong. Some local visitors indicate that the promenade has more than harbour views, as they find the decorations and facilities attractive too. A regular fishing visitor hopes that there would be more facilities along the waterfront for anglers. Some other local visitors suggest setting up more activity zones for the elderly and kids, as well as food kiosks and cycling tracks along the way to attract more tourists and the general public.
I would like to extend my thankfulness to my colleagues and the Harbourfront Commission for their on-going efforts in liaising with stakeholders for the development of promenades along the Victoria Harbour, which would allow visitors to come close to the waterfront and enjoy the splendid views of our harbour right next to it. The final report of the Urban Design Study for the Wan Chai North and North Point Harbourfront Areas has been published in December. The harbourfront promenade will extend further towards Wan Chai North and North Point with new elements, such as harbour steps, waterfront food and beverage facilities, water sports centres, which are common in foreign countries. It is our hope that the promenade would meet a wide range of needs of the public.
29 December, 2019