DEVELOPMENT does not mean sacrificing all the old things, nor does PRESERVATION implying just desperate struggle. It is not a simple black-and-white fight, nor a right-and-wrong judgment. What makes a society mature tends to reflect on rational and multi-dimensional dialogue among societal extremes, where mutual inspiration and advantage borrowing could be initiated and eventually beneficial to the society as a whole.
The Central Star Ferry and Queen’s Pier cases seems touching the nerves of all and forming sentimental crisis, yet there might be inspirational opportunity if we can capture the real sense behind the emotion: Collective Memory as Intangible Asset can be wisely CAPITALIZED. However, we must recognize that simply preserving the old is meaningless, and new sets of social function and value system shall be injected to the historic element and make it nicely blend into sustainable urban and economic development. In this design exercise, the process of finding renewal solution for Central Waterfront is hence evolved into deeper revisit and wider research on issues of contemporary urban design and urban repositioning.
Beyond architectural beauty and historic value of the exiting Central Waterfront, the charm and intangible splendor of the area are in essence built on the urban space and environment that have surrounded it for a century. It hence reveals to us some hints that URBAN DESIGN and SOCIAL PROGRAMMING are the key issues to zoom in, if we want to successfully transform and capitalize the asset of collective memory in a new social and urban setting.
Six subjects are put into design agenda in this experiment:
1-to restructure the SPATIAL HIERARCHY of the existing waterfront area and the social and financial conditions of its neighboring urban space;
2-to retain or marginally relocate the key elements of the “collective memory” structures such as the Queen’s Pier and the bell tower of Star Ferry, and free up the ground level of the main structure as the SPIRITUAL CENTER of the future urban space while using the retained elements as a cultural program;
3-to strengthen the relationship among landmark buildings such as HKCEC, APA, TAMAR GOV HQ, CITYHALL, IFC etc, and to expand the landmark networks by introducing new MAGNET BUILDINGS such HKCEC PHASE 4, OPERA HOUSE, NEW STAR MUSEUM etc, which all together with those existing landmarks create a super-powerful urban impact along the waterfront area;
4-to facilitate the adjacent COMMERCIAL SPACE blending in with the Central Waterfront area from Wanchai to Central by providing extensive footbridge and open space network;
5-to introduce three dimensional DISTRICT-WIDE PEDESTRIAN NETWORK as to realize “car-free” objective and to encourage “seamless bridging” of district-wide pedestrian movement;
6-to extend the existing ferry wing into the bay area that combines with the district-wide pedestrian network to create a floating cultural facility, where the boring verticality character of the Hong Kong urbanscape can be broken by the HORIZONTALITY of the new landmark structure dancing across the harbour.