Tai Mei Tuk has long been a popular venue for cycling and water sports. With the opening of Tai Po Lung Mei Beach for public use last month, nearby residents and visitors now have another good place for leisure and recreational activities. This time, I have invited colleagues from the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) to talk about this man-made beach built by the Government, and share with us the construction process and challenges encountered. Colleagues from the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) will tell us about the architectural design and features of the ancillary facilities of the beach.
Hong Kong’s first man-made beach constructed by the Government
I believe we all know that there had been a strong and persistent demand from the Tai Po community for the construction of a public beach at Lung Mei for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors as early as possible. As the department responsible for the overall planning and design of the project, CEDD has adopted the principle of “Conservation before Construction” in developing the first man-made beach in Hong Kong built by the Government at Lung Mei. Senior Engineer of CEDD, Mr LAM Chi-kuen, Leo, says that the project includes a 200-metre long beach with a groyne at each end, two lookout towers, a public car park and 96 parking places for bicycles.
Formulating measures to prevent sand loss
On the overall design, Engineer of CEDD, Mr CHAN Kam-fai, says that when deciding the orientation of the beach, they have considered the fact that sand can be easily carried away by waves or currents. To formulate measures to prevent sand loss, CEDD has collected a range of weather information and marine data, such as variations in wind speed, wind direction, tidal flow, currents and waves, and has estimated sand movements using computer models. As waves mainly come from the southeast, the beach is designed to be southeast-oriented so that waves can hit it head-on. Also, with a groyne at each end of the beach, loss of sand from both sides can be prevented. Moreover, the beach is covered with natural marine sand that has been screened. Because the size and texture of the sand are just right, swimmers will have a pleasant feeling once they step on the beach.
Making sure that the water is free from pollution
As regards the challenges encountered during the development of Lung Mei Beach, Mr CHAN Kam-fai says that water quality is an important consideration. There are a natural stream called “Lo Tsz River” and a storm-water drain to the west and east of the beach respectively. To prevent possible pollution by their discharge, an open channel and a box culvert have been constructed by CEDD to divert their outlets away from the beach all the way to outside the groynes. According to recent water quality testing conducted by the Environmental Protection Department for the beach, the beach is still receiving the highest grading (i.e., good water quality) and is suitable for swimming.
Human co-existing with marine organisms in harmony
Another challenge is conservation. To minimise the impact on marine ecology in the area, CEDD has engaged fish specialists to further study and design mitigation measures for marine ecology, such as conducting detailed ecological surveys and identifying suitable reception sites. After careful assessment, CEDD has translocated affected marine organisms including gobies, sea cucumbers, and starfish to the nearby Ting Kok East before commencement of works.
After completion of works, CEDD’s regular monitoring shows that, at present, the biodiversity near Lung Mei Beach is similar to that around Ting Kok East. The marine ecology remains stable and many relocated species have appeared again near the beach. The works demonstrate that human can co-exist with marine organisms in harmony, embracing the vision of sustainable development.
Beach building with practicality and visual appeal
As it is summer, Lung Mei beach has attracted many visitors even on weekdays since its opening. Designed with both practicality and visual appeal, the beach building has become an attractive feature of the beach. Mr TSANG Wai-lun, William, Senior Architect of ArchSD, says that the beach building provides various facilities such as an observation deck, a light refreshment kiosk, changing rooms, washrooms, a first-aid room and shower facilities, for visitors to enjoy a swim and relax to the full.
Design echoing the ridgeline of Pat Sin Leng
As regards the design, Ms CHIU Ning, Architect of ArchSD, says that the rippling roof of the observation deck echoes the ridgeline of Pat Sin Leng in the background. Built with aluminium tubes, the rippling roof looks like shimmering waves from a distance. The observation desk is located one floor above the beach, so that visitors can revel in the sea view, sea breeze and sunset from a higher perspective. This extraordinary design has turned the building into the new landmark of the beach.
Better connectivity with the beach
Walking down a long flight of steps which is about 4 metres tall, visitors can get to the beach from Ting Kok Road. Nonetheless, to better connect the beach with the road, ArchSD has built the male/female changing rooms and shower facilities for the beach building as separate small buildings along a gentle ramp, through which visitors from Ting Kok Road can access the changing rooms, shower facilities and then the beach.
Open and transparent design
Ms CHIU Ning says that in designing the beach building, they have strived for an open and transparent design to showcase the beautiful scenery around Lung Mei Beach, and to strengthen visitors’ connection with the nature. An example of such effort is the triangular skylight of the outdoor shower facilities, through which swimmers can appreciate the beautiful view of Pat Sin Leng while having a shower, as if immersing themselves in the nature. Building materials have also been carefully selected to be compatible with the nature as far as possible. The precast glass reinforced concrete panels forming the external walls are made using formwork with natural bamboos, creating a fresh and rustic style.
Residents welcome the new beach
Some Tai Po residents comment that they are very pleased with the opening of Lung Mei Beach as they no longer need to travel a long distance to the beaches on Hong Kong Island; the beach is easily accessible by public transport, and the water quality is better than expected. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the colleagues of CEDD and ArchSD for their hard work. Despite all the challenges encountered in carrying out the works, the new beach really provides more options of recreational activities for Tai Po residents and visitors. Moreover, thanks to the efforts of the conservation team, marine ecology in the vicinity has been preserved, proving that it is possible to maintain a balance between development and conservation. By the way, I would like to remind everyone to be careful while enjoying the beach, and avoid disturbing or picking away any species of marine life. We should appreciate the nature with a proper attitude.
11 July, 2021Back