The Adaption of Elevated Pedestrian System by Private Developers in 1960s: Case Study of Mei Foo Sun Chuen

With the rapid growth of economy and increasing demand of private housing, developers started to build large scale private estate in Hong Kong. Mei Foo Sun Chuen was built during 1960s and 1970s in Lai Chi Kok Bay and it was designed by Wong Tung & Partners. The estate includes 99  residential towers which hold 13,149 units. The general typology of Mei Foo Sun Chuen is  several residential towers with a shared podium, and it is the first time that this typology was adopted to private housing estate in such a large scale in Hong Kong (Sin, 2013). When the project was finished in 1976, it received positive response from the market (Xue, 2016). In 1982, Tusen Wan Line was opened and linked to the estate via Mei Foo Station, and it provided convenient transportation to the residences.

Podiums and elevated walkways are same elements in both Sha Tin new town and Mei Foo Sun Chuen which are developed within same time period. The typology of towers and podiums creates the condition of multiple ground level, and the podiums are interconnected by elevated walkways. Consequently, people can walk among podiums without interfere with vehicles on the ground (Will, 1978), and the foot bridges as well as the podiums offer the residences recreational and social space. In Mei Foo Sun Chuen, the podiums are designed as gardens with recreational facilities such as fountains and sculptures. Not all towers in Mei Foo Sun Chuen locate podiums, there are a few towers sit on the ground and there are retail shops on the ground floor.

However, comparing with Sha Tin where the design is mostly “top-down” and carried out by government, Mei Foo Sun Chuen’s approach of podiums and elevated walkway system are more utilitarian. In Sha Tin, the ground level serves car circulation and there is few pedestrian or shop. But in Mei Foo Sun Chuen, both the ground level and podiums are designed with shops as well as pedestrian paths. The elevated walkways are covered with roofs (Figure 1), and on the ground level, shops are shaded by the elevated walkways and the extended edges of podiums, as a result, people are able to walk through the shaded paths in bad weather (Figure 2). Also, the ground level is used by a great number of pedestrians to access to bus terminals and MTR station. In this way, the footbridges no longer merely serve the circulation, and they create more opportunities for commercial activities.

Figure1: retail shops within the elevated footbridge in Mei Foo Sun Cheun. (Sin, 2013)
Figure1: retail shops within the elevated footbridge in Mei Foo Sun Cheun. (Sin, 2013)
Figure2: retail shops covered by the footbridge on the ground level. (Sin, 2013)
Figure2: retail shops covered by the footbridge on the ground level. (Sin, 2013)

Generally speaking, Mei Foo Sun Chuen represents the early stage of podium and tower housing typology in Hong Kong. It was designed to serve the need of the middle class and response to the urge of gentrification. The elevated pedestrian system cooperates with the podiums so to create a pedestrian-friendly environment, meanwhile the footbridges and podiums provide space for commercial activities as well as recreational space.

Reference List:

Charlie Q.L. Xue. “Hong Kong Architecture 1945–2015: From Colonial to Global”  (Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media. 2016). 115-121

Sin, H. [冼皓婷]. The trend of podium structure development and its future in Hong Kong : in the perspective of pedestrian circulation. (Thesis, 2013). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from. http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5131710

Will, B.F.. In L. S. K. Wong (Ed.), Housing in Hong Kong—A multi-disciplinary study (pp. 91–127). (Hong Kong: Heinemann, Education Books (Asia) Ltd. 1978). Chapter 5: Housing design and construction methods

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