The Planning Strategy – Symbiotic Morphogenesis
The City Centre is a manifestation of a continuous evolution. The urbanscape is the outcome of this continually evolving process, rather than of a comprehensive plan. Despite changes in context, the City Centre maintains a framework of development resulting from and applying to the evolving process. The recognition of this underlying framework and characteristics of the City Centre, and the strengthening of them, are of prime importance in planning for the future of the City Centre.
While comprehensive plans set out to maximize control over the built form of the city, the planning concept, by contrast, tries to assume a minimal position as the basis for action. We propose a Conceptual Framework created by
‘Symbiotic Morphogenesis’ of ‘Activity Nodes’ and ‘Movement Networks’.
The Waterfront and the City
In the process of expanding the City Centre by successive reclamations, the new waterfronts and the new developments were often alienated from the context.
Within the ever changing context, there exists some persistent trends or characters. The proposed Planning Strategy recognizes and strengthens such elements by projecting the ‘Sense of a Place’ via generating movements through ‘Places’ that relate the waterfront with the city. It also guides towards a ‘Symbiotic Morphogenesis’ of the new developments with the original context of the City Centre.
‘Symbiotic Morphogenesis’ of polarized elements, ‘Water’ and ‘Land’, creates ‘the Third Element’.
‘The Third Element’ forms ‘the Intermediary’ between ‘Water’ and ‘Land’.
‘The Intermediary’ created between the layers evolved from the expansion of the City Centre through reclamations dissolves the boundaries between ‘Water’ and ‘Land’; and the boundaries between the new developments and the original context.
The mass of construction which makes up the City Centre contains variations of use and levels of activity, and constitutes the urbanscape both functionally and visually. This differentiation tends to occur around nodes, which are points of focus or thematic concentrations. The Planning Strategy creates ‘Activity Nodes’ in the form of buildings and non-buildings. This strategic arrangement of ‘Activity Nodes’ constitutes the urban space characteristics of the future waterfront of the City Centre.
Three major ‘Emerging Activity Nodes’ (EAN) each with its unique characteristics are identified.
EAN 01 – Leisure & Shopping
EAN 02 – the People’s Square
EAN 03 – Art Performance & Sight Seeing
EAN 01 – Leisure & Shopping
A continuous open space stretches from Statue Square and Edinburgh Place to the new Waterfront Garden. It further continues to meet two huge pools, one on the roof, and the other on the seaward side of the new bus terminal, forming a ‘Blue Roof’ adjoining and “drawing in” the sea. With landscaped decks span over roads, this continuous open space allows unobstructed pedestrian flows to the waterfront.
A retail complex in the form of groundscraper stretches around the water and connects IFC, Jardine House and the existing piers. It further reaches out to the new ‘Maritime Museum’ linked to the City Hall.
On the seaward side of the Maritime Museum is the new waterbay where the controversial Queen’s Pier is re-constructed in proximity to its original location.
The ‘Green Roofs’ on the groundscraper provide open space at higher levels extending and projecting out to the water. The cantilever decks over Pier No. 9 & 10 afford spatial and visual immediacy to the water.
EAN 02 – the People’s Square
The major civic open space at the new waterfront, ‘the People’s Square’, situates between the water and the new Central Government Complex. This grand amphitheatre-like open space provides a huge gathering place for civic activities and assemblies.
Connecting to the future underground railway station, supporting facilities are provided under the civic square for events catering masses.
The deck cantilevers towards the sea eliminates the visual boundaries between the land and the water at the civic square, and creates a symbolic space of ‘Freedom’, reflecting the spirit of Hong Kong.
EAN 03 – Art Performance & Sight Seeing
Extending from the HK Convention & Exhibition Centre and the adjoining Golden Bauhinia Square to the sea is the art installation - ‘Bauhinia on the Water’. Together with the water screen made from fountains in the sea, a new sight seeing spot is created providing shows and entertainment events both day and night. In particular, the ‘Water Amphitheatre’ is a good location for watching laser shows on the water screen at night. It is also a hot spot for outdoor performance.
Adjoining the ‘Water Amphitheatre’ is the new ‘Design Museum’. This building is elevated from the ground forming a large semi-outdoor sheltered space for exhibitions and performance. The Design Museum is linked to the new ‘Performing Art Centre’, and then further to the HK Academy for Performing Arts and the HK Art Centre to the south. Further to the west of the Design Museum is the new ‘Seaside Gallery’ facing a waterbay. All these art & cultural facilities constitute a strong cultural zone.
Shuttle boat services link the Golden Bauhinia Square, the Seaside Gallery and the Queen’s Pier - a good sight seeing trip and a major tourist attraction.
The Waterfront and the People
The waterfront of the City Centre, once the centre of urban life, has lost its predominance. The Planning Strategy reinforces the role of the waterfront as a ‘Place of Pleasure’, which contributes to the quality of life of the people, and the desire for leisure by the people.
The Planning Strategy aims a ‘Green Waterfront’.
The thematic concentrations are in the form of symbiotic morphogenesis of buildings and open spaces, and new structures become the metamorphosis of the two elements - landscape and architecture. Green Roof is featured in all the new developments. Together with the green spaces on ground levels, an ‘all green effect’ to the waterfront is created.
There are open spaces at various levels in various characteristics, emphasizing the role of the waterfront as a place of pleasure. Waterfront parks, gardens, promenade, water bays, civic square, together with the green roofs, offer unobstructed open spaces that open up the city to the harbour, bringing spatial and visual immediacy between water and the people
‘Against all Lots’
The context of the City Centre is a dynamic multiplex urbanscape. An unitary conviction to implement a comprehensive plan covering such an extensive geographical area can hardly avoid prescriptions that are easily overtaken by changes, be they cultural, technological, economic or political. To allow flexibility for all volatilities, the Planning Strategy provides a conceptual framework which embraces changes, and absorb inputs from multi-disciplines in the society.
The Planning Strategy demonstrates a reactive force against a comprehensive plan with functional segregations. Synergism is our planning approach in replacing the land use zoning assigned to discrete land lots.
The Planning Strategy replaces ‘Comprehensive Planning Ideology’ with 'Symbiotic Morphogenesis’ of
Activity Nodes and Movement Networks.
It is the ‘Movement Networks’, internally or externally, that relates the waterfront to the city, or the city morphology (the new developments) with the original context.
The three main roads in the City Centre, Queen’s Road Central, Des Voeux Road Central and Connaught Road Central defined the waterfront boundaries formed by successive reclamations. The proposed new Central Wanchai Bypass will become the fourth throughway. This new waterfront road runs mainly underground and avoids the formation of separated land areas lying on the seaward side of the new road.
Movement on water offers a different way to experience the urban space characteristics that gives the sense of a place. In addition to land transportation, an alternative way of moving along the waterfront is by shuttle boat services. The boat trip starts at the ferry pier adjoining the Golden Bauhinia Square, linking with the new ‘Seaside Gallery’, the Queen’s Pier and the Pier No.9.
The Pedestrian Movement Network is a 3-dimensional matrix integrating the followings:
1. movement through Activity Nodes internally, above ground and underground;
2. movement through Activity Nodes externally, on green roofs, decks, open spaces and streets;
3. movement through developments interconnected by a network of elevated walkways;
4. extension of the elevated walkways to the hillside escalator linked to the Mid-levels;
5. movement underground through MTR stations.
Waterfront Strategic Plan
The Planning Strategy avoids conflict with the existing or planned infrastructure, which is summarized as follows:
The alignments of the Central-Wanchai Bypass Tunnel, the P1 circulation road, and P2 circulation road are maintained. Decks spanning over the roads provide unobstructed pedestrian flows.
The water edge of the reclamation as designed on the Central District Extension OZP is maintained in principle. Our Planning Strategy only makes refinements along the water edge introducing two shallow water bays to replace the large marine basin shown on the OZP, with one of them accommodating the re-constructed Queen’s Pier. The water bays also provide piers and jetties to facilitate water transports along the waterfront.
Facilities to be built in proximity to the Airport Railway Express Extension will be designed as ‘deck over’, avoiding any conflict with the Extension structures.
Locations drainage reserves and pumping stations are maintained.
Existing Ferry Piers are maintained.
Queen’s Pier will be re-constructed at the new waterbay in proximity to its original location.
Layouts of the150m Military Berth and the Restricted Military Access are maintained.
EVA is provided along the waterfront in different sections.
The Planning Strategy recognizes and involves the existing and confirmed developments as prime elements within the underlying framework and characteristics of the City Centre, and strives to strengthen them.
In particular, the Strategy involves the following existing and confirmed developments:
New Central Government Complex as illustrated in Section 3 (Activity Nodes) – EAN 02 (the People’s Square).
Jardine House and City Hall as illustrated in Section 3 (Activity Nodes) – EAN 01 (Leisure & Shopping).
Academy of Performing Arts and HK Convention & Exhibition Centre as illustrated in Section 3 (Activity Nodes) – EAN 03 (Art Performance & Sight Seeing).