The Kai Tak Sky Garden, situated at the former Kai Tak Airport runway, has recently opened. Drawing design inspiration from the former Kai Tak Airport, the sky garden brings back collective memories of the old airport. Now it has become a new landmark in the Kai Tak Development Area. This time, I have invited colleagues from the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) to talk about the design and characteristics of the sky garden, and to share the pleasure in visiting the park.
First large park above a carriageway
Located atop Shing Fung Road, the Kai Tak Sky Garden is an elevated landscaped deck built along the centreline of the former airport runway. It spans about 1.4 km and is about two hectares in size. Mr CHU Chin-keung, Henry, Deputy Project Manager (East) of the CEDD, says that with the aim of providing more green public space, the project team has adopted a “single site, multiple use” model with an innovative solution to turn the roof of the long and narrow noise barriers at Shing Fung Road into a landscaped deck, making it Hong Kong’s first large park built on noise barriers and above a carriageway.
Four zones themed around spring, summer, autumn and winter
The central walkway of the sky garden is divided into four zones themed around spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively. There are more than 80 species of plants in the garden which take turn to blossom in different seasons, making a pleasant sight for visitors. Mr Henry CHU says that the sky garden also acts as a “green connector”, using staircases and lifts to link various landmarks near Shing Fung Road, such as the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, the Kai Tak Runway Park, the future Metro Park and Tourism Node development, and the planned waterfront promenade. At night, under soft lighting and by the pools, the public can enjoy the splendid view of the Victoria Harbour and East Kowloon.
Three plazas with unique features
Moreover, the sky garden features three plazas with unique characteristics, namely the Garden Plaza with a simple modern design; the Lawn Plaza with a lawn and an education corner; and the Fountain Plaza with a small stage for performances. A ground-level amphitheatre in the south of the sky garden provides stepped seating for the public to hang around with friends, or enjoy recreational activities. As it is summer, flowers in the sky garden are in full blossom.
First noise barriers with a curved, rippling design
Noise barriers on the north-eastern side of the sky garden are one of the great highlights of the innovative design. Senior Engineer of the East Development Office of the CEDD, Mr CHU Chi-hong, Keith, says that these are the first noise barriers in Hong Kong built with a curved, rippling design to create the visual effect of dynamic water flow, which signifies the former airport runway being bounded by water on three sides. Composed of more than 1 000 transparent acoustic panels, all tailor-made, the noise barriers have gone through a challenging construction process which reflects the very fine craftsmanship of the workers.
Injecting elements of “aviation” into the design
As the former airport in Hong Kong, Kai Tak is well remembered for the place it held in the aviation history. Therefore, the sky garden pays tribute to the glorious days of Kai Tak Airport by incorporating quite a number of “aviation” elements throughout its design. Mr Keith CHU says that the design of the elongated landscaped deck structure deliberately resembles the fuselage and wings of an aeroplane, and the appearance of the Northern Crescent Walkway is based on the design of an air bridge inside an airport. Also, a lot of thought has gone into the design of the lighting system of the sky garden to specifically recreate the unique ambience of the former airport runway at night.
“13” and “31”: numbers with special meaning
Furthermore, “13” and “31”, the numbers with special meaning, are put at the two ends of the garden to symbolise “Runway 13” and “Runway 31” that were used for distinguishing orientation of the former airport runway. They represent the magnetic orientation of “135” and “315” degrees for the takeoff and landing of aeroplanes. Runways “13” and “31” were quite well-known for being some of the most challenging airport runways in the world. So, visitors, don’t miss out the “13” and “31” check-in spots! A time-limited 3D augmented reality mobile application to enhance the recreational experience of visitors is also available for taking interesting photos in the sky garden.
An emblem of the Kai Tak planning vision
I know that the sky garden has also incorporated many environmentally friendly elements. For examples, wind turbines and solar panels are installed for generating electricity for the lighting facilities at the garden, and quite a number of skylights have been built on the ground to let natural light penetrate to the carriageway underneath the garden. Apart from providing the public with a quality open space, the innovative and unique spatial pattern adopted by the sky garden, together with its aviation-themed design concept, have made it into a landmark that connects history, which is fully emblematic of the vision for Kai Tak to become “a distinguished, vibrant, attractive and people-oriented new development area by the Victoria Harbour”.
4 July, 2021Back