Elevated Walkway as a Typology in New Tow Planning— Case Study: Kowloon Bay Station

Facing the growing population and increasing need of housing, Hong Kong government planned a series of new towns in 1960s and 1970s. In this period, other Asian cities like Tokyo were experiencing similar challenges and the idea of decentralization and constructing megastructure along railway lines referred to Japan’s metabolism in 1960s (Xue, 2016). In Hong Kong, the multi-decked town was first introduced in 1969 in the Colony Outline Plan, which proposed a communal living on multiple levels within mega-structural towers sitting on train stations (Zheng and Xue, 2016). A typical scheme of a satellite town of 1960s is mega-structural towers, elevated podium, and MTR station. The elevated pedestrian walkway is essential in this scheme. They serve the pedestrian circulation, separate people from automobiles as well as create the communal living among the high rise residential buildings.

After the Kowloon Bay Station had been opened in 1979, this new town typology was adopted there and the area was transformed from an industrial area to a residential and commercial community. The aim of the massive elevated walkway system is to make connection between different programs of the community while separating human with vehicles. Similar to CIAM’s concept of multiple levels of transportation, in Kowloon Bay, the car, bus and taxi occupy the ground, while the pedestrian and train are elevated. The elevated walkways connect the podiums of residential towers, malls and the MTR station. The residential towers are plugged into the footbridges so that the pedestrian circulation is elevated and the ground level is left for cars (Figure 1) Communal and commercial activities happen on the footbridges and podiums.

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(Figure 1: footbridges connecting the podiums of residential towers and MTR station, Xue, 2012)

Telford Garden Phase I, completed in 1980 and Phase II, completed in 1997 illustrate the concept of three dimensional communal living. This compound includes residential towers, shopping malls, schools, community centers, clinics and post offices (Figure 2). And the atrium of Telford Garden connects to various residential towers, office buildings and transportation terminals via footbridges. The system works efficiently and the users keep increasing. Till 2012, over 200,000 residents are connected by it (Xue, 2012).

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(Figure 2: Football court at the podium of Telford Garden. Xue, 2012)

The three-dimensional planning fit the density of Hong Kong thus this typology of megastructure and elevated pedestrian circulation was further adapted to other sites. Before Kowloon Bay new town was constructed, Sha Tin had adapted this scheme in 1960s and turned to be successful. Later on, the master plan of Kowloon Station in 1992 and Olympic Station in 1990s also carried on the ideology.

Nowadays, critics about the elevated walk way system in the new town model argued that The ideology of separating vehicles and pedestrians is outdated and the segregation of pedestrian and car leads to the lack of street life (Leung, 2012). Although the density of Hong Kong keeps increasing through decades, the contemporary urban planning is more comprehensive and focuses on safety, efficiency, economic liable and different user groups (Planning Department, 2000).

Reference List

Leung, S. [梁萃熹]. “Walkable new towns : a review on the pedestrian environment in Hong Kong’s new towns for the planning for future new development areas”. 2012. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4988539
Zheng Tan and Charlie Q. L. Xue. “The Evolution of an Urban Vision: The Multilevel Pedestrian Networks in Hong Kong, 1965–1997”. Journal of Urban History . 2016. Vol. 42(4) 688–708
Charlie Q.L. Xue. “Hong Kong Architecture 1945–2015: From Colonial to Global” (Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media. 2016) 139-154

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