The Government has been striving to take forward harbourfront enhancement in recent years, aiming at building a continual stretch of world-class promenade for the public to relax on and enjoy. The Belcher Bay harbourfront open space in the Western District is a key pilot site. It adopts a “no-frills” design, and the facilities here are mostly mobile, such as rearrangeable cargo pallets, and roller pallets for sliding around. Now it has even got a land-based “Waterpark”. These facilities encourage visitors of different age groups to unleash their creativity and enjoy the harbourfront, sedentarily or energetically, with mutual respect and in an inclusive manner.
In this post, I have specially invited Mr NG Wing-shun, Vincent, Chairman of the Harbourfront Commission (HC), to introduce to us the concept, design and management mode of the “Harbourfront Shared Space”. Moreover, the consultant of the community garden in the open space will tell us about the promotion of agriculture at the harbourfront.
Thinking out of the box and testing out public acceptance
The Belcher Bay harbourfront open space has been fully open to public round-the-clock since October last year. Located at Shing Sai Road, Kennedy Town, it is an ideal place to watch the sunset against the harbour view. The project consists of a promenade and an adjacent open space, covering an area of about 5 900 square metres. Mr Vincent NG says the HC and the Development Bureau have been exploring suitable designs and management modes for our harbourfronts with a view to creating a new brand of “Harbourfront Shared Space”, and the Belcher Bay harbourfront open space is the testing ground of the new concept. Unlike any ordinary park, the site has sought to break away from the regular framework and test out public acceptance of the new facilities.
High public acceptance
Mr Vincent NG says since the design and management mode of the site are of an experimental nature, they have been psychologically prepared that not everything will work. If the ideas are proven to be successful, they will be applied to other sites. If not, the HC will gain experience from them. According to the ”Study on the New Mode of Design and Management at the Belcher Bay Harbourfront Open Space” conducted early this year, up to 93% of some 600 interviewees were satisfied with the site. The positive results have shown a direction for further exploration.
Minimising limitation to spur creativity
Talking about the features of a “Harbourfront Shared Space”, Mr Vincent NG says that the concept adopts a vision-driven management mode without undue restriction or limitation. On the contrary, it encourages the public to exert self-discipline, mutual respect and acceptance. In this promenade, visitors can enjoy themselves in their own ways: jogging, cycling, skateboarding, sitting, running and chasing. They can even bring their pets with them. Moreover, most of the facilities and equipment here are mobile ones, such as the cargo pallets, seating of different designs, rocking chairs and “pop-up” play equipment. Visitors may let their imagination guide them, and create a space of their own. The management mode helps enhance the sense of belonging of the public to the harbourfront.
Besides, the project adopts a “place-making” approach. Under this approach, the HC gauges needs of the locality through observation and the views collected, and responds to the needs of local residents accordingly. The “bottom-up” planning approach optimises every small patch of the site, and ensures that every piece of facility will function as expected.
Adding summer fun facilities
In line with the concept of “pops-up”, new and colourful items have been added to the Belcher Bay harbourfront open space for the summer vacation, such as new pallets, cosier fittings for the pavilions, a gigantic summer fun waterbed and “roller surfboards”. We will continue to collaborate with different sectors in the community, so that they can join in for harbourfront development. For instance, the HC has recently joined hands with a startup, which specialises in designing sanitising robots, for regular disinfection at the harbourfront with robots.
Community garden in an open environment
As regards the hinterland of about 2 000 square metres adjacent to the promenade, it has been allocated to K-Farm, a non-governmental organisation, for the operation of an open community garden. It is the first urban leisure farm combining hydroponics, aquaponics and organic farming in Hong Kong. It is also the only hydroponics farm open for public use.
Mr CHAN Kai-ho, Vicky, Architectural Consultant of K-Farm, tells us about this hydroponics farm set up in a green house. He says the green house is 6-metre tall, making it the tallest hydroponics farm in Hong Kong. Vegetables grown outdoors usually takes two months to grow, but with an indoor temperature maintained at 25oC to 27oC, the farm cuts the duration by half. The farm now grows 6 000 plants, and harvests a tonne of vegetables a month. Mr Vicky CHAN says, due to the challenges brought by sea breeze, salt content, etc, materialisation of harbourfront farming is nothing easy. It is through architectural design and community co-operation that the difficulties are overcome one after another. With the promenade functioning as an experimental ground and the K-Farm providing agricultural activities, the two components are complimentary to each other in the promotion of wholistic health and inclusiveness in the community.
Harbourfront ambassadors helping with promotion
Co-operation and support from all parties are essential for smooth construction of the “Harbourfront Shared Space”. As such, the HC has made arrangements to explain the management concept and render assistance to the public through “Harbourfront Ambassadors”. The HC also hopes that through interaction, more public views will be garnered.
More harbourfront facilities to open progressively
I hope that the Belcher Bay Harbourfront open space will continue to give us insights as we try out and explore the way to implement the “Harbourfront Shared Space”, and show us guidance for the other harbourfront development projects, so that we will be able to meet the diverse needs of the public and tourists. We will continue to work closely with the HC to open more promenades along our harbour. The "Revitalised Typhoon Shelter Precinct" in Causeway Bay and the “East Coast Park Precinct” in the north of Watson Road are scheduled for commissioning by the end of the year and in the third quarter this year respectively. I will keep you posted of the progress.
25 July, 2021Back