Hong Kong is a dense and compact city. A garden in the downtown area can no doubt offer people a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and promote healthy living. After redevelopment, the Sai Lau Kok Garden, located at the centre of Tsuen Wan, presents visitors with a refreshing and pleasant change both inside and outside. This time, I have invited colleagues from the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) to tell us how they gave the old-fashioned garden that used to sit at a corner a makeover by applying innovative design ideas, turning it into a popular recreational space for people.
“Opening up” the hidden park
Constructed in 1987, the Sai Lau Kok Garden occupies an area of 2 748 square metres. Despite proximity to Tsuen Wan Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Station, its usage rate was relatively low due to the lack of same-level direct access from the MTR Station and the footbridge networks in the district. The redevelopment project began in November, 2016. One of the project team’s main considerations was how to “open up” the garden which had been hidden among buildings to make it visible to the public again. According to Architect of the ArchSD, Mr LO Yee-cheung, Adrian, before redevelopment, besides being surrounded by buildings, the garden was enclosed on four sides by walls that were 2.5 metre tall. Taking the redevelopment opportunity, architects removed the walls and replaced them with greening barriers that are about 1 metre tall to separate the garden from neighbouring roads, creating a more open view and improving air ventilation in the community at the same time.
“Raising” the garden to enhance accessibility
Moreover, in designing public open spaces, it is very important to consider the accessibility issue. To address the accessibility of Sai Lau Kok Garden, the ArchSD has “raised” half of the garden’s area to construct a podium garden with connection to the footbridges in the district and direct access to the entrances/exits of the MTR Station to create a highly accessible network. One of the footbridges connecting the garden is a uniquely designed suspension footbridge that links up with existing footbridges on Castle Peak Road with direct access to a public transport interchange or bus terminus. Since the garden is split into an upper and a lower level, a number of staircases are constructed on both sides to facilitate public access.
A special feature: inverted glass cone
After redevelopment, the Sai Lau Kok Garden has changed quite a lot both inside and outside. Mr Adrian LO tells us that, since the local community had been requesting the provision of additional indoor venues at convenient locations for organising small- to medium- scale activities, the architects have specially constructed a multi-purpose activity room and a covered multi-purpose venue to meet the needs of the community. Once you enter the interior space, you will see a skylight with special features in the shape of an inverted glass cone in the foyer. The inverted glass cone is the design highlight of the entire project, which not only facilitates natural ventilation and lighting, but also brings the outdoor environment to the interior space for an enhanced sense of spaciousness.
Materials bringing out natural and gentle feelings
For material selection, the project team has used fair-faced concrete and traditional Chinese kiln-fired grey bricks as the main construction materials, and decorated the interior walls and screens with wooden slats, bringing out natural, gentle and comfortable feelings. Moreover, the interior’s high headroom design facilitates natural ventilation, thereby reducing the use of air-conditioning. Sunlight can also be introduced into the premises through the glass and skylight, which can in turn reduce electricity consumption for illumination and enhance the sense of indoor spaciousness. In addition, the facilities of the garden are meticulously designed by the project team, for example, handrails and seat backs are installed to the benches beside planters to assist the elderly in standing up and sitting down.
An oasis in the downtown area of Tsuen Wan
To mitigate heat island effect is the main challenge in building design. The architects have introduced green building design that incorporates green elements into the redevelopment project. For example, there are nets with climbing plants set up at the garden centre to increase shaded areas. The elaborate overall planning also comprises the retention of 13 original trees of various species in the garden and the planting of shrubs and lawns to provide shade for the public and create an oasis in the downtown area of Tsuen Wan. Senior Architect of the ArchSD, Mr TSANG Wai-lun, says that after redevelopment, the Sai Lau Kok Garden not only provides comfortable space for leisure and activities, but also injects new vibrancy into the community to serve as a good place for local residents to play, rest and get together.
Meticulous care and high efficiency of the project team
I often introduce the work of the Development Bureau and the various departments under its purview through “My Blog”, hoping the public will better understand the efforts of my colleagues. From the redevelopment project of the Sai Lau Kok Garden, I can feel the meticulous care and high efficiency of the project team. I hope that my colleagues will continue to come up with more creative and environmentally-friendly building designs for the public through innovative thinking. Furthermore, as mentioned over the past few consecutive weeks, I together with a number of colleagues, experts, stakeholders have participated in the production of the television programme “Searching For Land”. The last five episodes were broadcast last week and it is hoped that the public has obtained a better understanding of our determination and efforts to find and create land. You are welcome to click on the DEVB’s webpage on Thematic Clips to re-visit the programme.
18 April, 2021Back