HONG KONG/ THE MIXTURE OF THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MULTILEVEL PEDESTRIAN NETWORK 1960-70S

The urban environment of Hong Kong is featured with its extreme connectivitiy, accessibility and density. Such identity is significantly fostered by its multilevel pedestrian network, which emerged in the 1970s to prioritize the pedestrian network segregated from the wheels. The consortium between the public and private appeared to be a distinctively unique mode in the development of Hong Kong ‘s multilevel pedestrian network (Figure 1). There was a large variety of social actions involved, such as the MTRC, the government ,the property developers and so on. The corporation among these factors, though accompanies with plenty of conflicts and negotiations, has been proved to be effective in many districts of Hong Kong.

Figure 1. Diagram of Private and Public Walkways in Central.  Source: Zheng Tan. Conditions of the Hong Kong Section: Spatial History and Regulatory Environment of Vertically Integrated Developments
Figure 1. Diagram of Private and Public Walkways in Central.
Source: Zheng Tan. Conditions of the Hong Kong Section: Spatial History and Regulatory Environment of Vertically Integrated Developments

The first perpetual private flyover in Central was designed by Parmer and Turner Architects built in 1965 to connect the Mandarin Hotel and the Prince Building. A private network later connected the complex of Charter House, Alexander House, Prince Building, Mandarin Hotel and Landmark. It penetrated into the indoor floor space through ”public area within private properties. These elevated bridges were sheltered and air-conditioned in some parts. In 1974, a 600 million hkd central redevelopment scheme was announced by Hong Kong Land. This scheme included a pedestrian plaza of Landmark, which was the first modern atrium of its kind in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong Land’s redevelopment scheme, Landmark was the latest stage to creat a private elevated pedestrian walkway system across a large catchment area around Central Station. In 1973, the first stage of the public pedestrian network, which started from the mezzanine level of Connaught Centre, reached a height of 16 feet 9 inches over Connaught Road, connected to Union House went over Pedder Street, was completed and integrated into a network with the existing and proposed skyways. Soon after that, the land owners of Central realized the land value added to the upper level of pedestrian walkways, which brought enormous pedestrian flow from the previous ground level. They soon became integral components of a giant pedestrian network connecting all the major commercial developments in the area.

 

Among the various social forces, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) was definitely a prominent player in the development of the multilevel pedestrian network. In 1976, the MTRC conducted an agreement with Cheung Kong on a 26-storey tower at the site of the old General Post Office. It was intended to hold retail arcades leading to the concourse of Central Station. A catchment area was established above Central Station. A stable pedestrian influx was distributed to a broad area around Central. In late 1970s, the MTRC has started property development. With the integration of multiple programmes, circulations around metro stations, MTRC has became a powerful player in developing the continuous, uninterrupted pedestrian networks in Hong Kong (Figure 2).

subway alignment and station-property integration suggested by the Hong Kong Mass Transport Study (1967)
Figure 2. subway alignment and station-property integration suggested by the Hong Kong Mass Transport Study. 1967.

Tracing back the history of the pedestrian network, it can be revealed that the consortium among the government, the stakeholders and developers was a key factor to the success of this network. The developers and stakeholders make more profit on the enormous influx brought to the multilevel walkways by the multilevel system. The government and public enterprises are able to provide a more circulated urban context as well as more public space within this multilevel pedestrian system, where enormous commercial and social activities take place. Hence a win-win situation is achieved.

Reference:

 

Clarke, R. C. Planning in Hong Kong. Far East Architect& Builder. January, 1965, 54-55.

Gold, J. R. 2006. “The Making of a Megastructure: Architectural Modernism, Town Planning and Cumbernauld’s Central Area, 1955-75.” Planning Perspectives 21(2):109-131.

Lo, Hong K., Tang Siman, and David Z. Q. Wang. 2008. “Managing the Accessibility on Mass Public Transit: The Case of Hong Kong.” Journal of Transport and Land Use 1(2):23-49.

Zheng, Tan. Conditions of the Hong Kong Section: Spatial History and Regulatory Environment of Vertically Integrated Developments. University of California, Los Angeles. 2014.

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