Archive | July, 2012

City Getting Chopped Up By Hong Kong’s “Urban Planning”

30 Jul

It would have been a much more aesthetically-pleasing and smooth walk between the two plazas if they face directly to each other. Urban planning Authority in Hong Kong simply chops up the land and lets each developer “take care” of the development.In terms of math, this lazy method is the most profitable for the government because minimum public infrastructure is needed.

Sadly, the lack of co-ordination between developers end up producing lots of odd and unpleasant spatial experience. If the government does not take up the responsibility to plan WELL for the taxpayers, why do we need them?

photo montage of plazas at belair monte and regentville, fanling, hong kong – 6:30pm, jul 22, 2012

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Budget Infrastructure in Hong Kong – A Classic Pedestrian “Freeway”

25 Jul

This colonial-era-built pedestrian “freeway” including the “exit ramp” is a splendid and abstract example representing First Great American Architect Louis Sullivan’s “Form follows function” and International Style Superstar Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is More”. But somehow this “freeway” doesn’t look as exciting as it sounds. “Form follows function” becomes “Budget follows function” and “Form follows budget”; “Less is more” ends up as “Less is that?”.

Yes, this “freeway” has indeed helped move lots of people crossing the streets. But this kind of “budget infrastructure” is so unfitted for a city now so-called “one of the most beautiful cities in the world”, “pearl of the east”, “world class metropolitan city just like London and Paris”, “best asian city’ or “bla bla bla city”. While the government is spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars on a new headquarter that forbids its taxpayers from going in, little is spent on things that million others use every day. Oh wow, that’s what happens in a non-democratic society sometimes…

pedestrian freeway in luen wo hui, fanling, north district, hong kong – 6:25pm, jul 22, 2012

Thoughts For A Better Minibus Hub

23 Jul

It is mostly a pain in the ass waiting for a minibus (light bus) at this minibus hub. It is not the sun or the rain, but the exhaust and heat that suffocates me when a lot of minibuses pull over at the same time. The walls of massive buildings create an island effect that simply traps all the pollution at the hub.

To make the future hubs better, maybe we can design hubs in a more open area where the waiting lines can be more spread out like the leaf of a palm tree to help dissipate the exhaust. Maybe some curving walls along the waiting lines can help create a wind tunnel effect to ventilate the hub. A little bit of linear landscape along the lines would probably filter the air and shade the hub too. Let’s start investing in our infrastructure to make the taxpayers’ daily life better.

minibus hub at luen wo hui, fanling, north district, hong kong – 6:25pm, jul 22, 2012

Backward Thinking In Hong Kong’s Waterfront Planning

22 Jul

While other major cities in the western hemisphere such as Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Toronto and London are taking down inner-city freeways and converting waterfront into parks and recreation space for their taxpayers, Hong Kong is still reclaiming land from its harbor to build more highways and highrises. Is it about time for Hong Kong government to learn from others about how to build a real world-class city?

Click here to connect to the Atlantic Cities to see what other cities have done.

waterfront in central, hong kong island – 2:30pm, jul 20, 2012

Seeing History of Fanling’s Founding Villages from the Sky

3 Jul

aerial views looking from left to right

Recently I have been exploring the ancient villages (about 200-500 years old) in Sheung Shui and Fanling to educate myself the history and development of my hometown. I have walked the historic trail, seen the walled castle-like villages and photographed two of the biggest-and-finest ancestral halls. Just when I thought I did it all, I discovered that there is even a cooler way to do that – seeing it from the sky!

At 1000 feet in the sky, I can clearly see that the original villages were built along the foot of the hills along the Ng Tung river (River Indus). This settlement pattern best illustrates the basic principles of Feng Shui – hills sheltering the villages from the elements while river providing water for farming and fertility. San Uk Tsuen (literally meaning New Village) at the center in the first picture actually has an artificial pond in the foreground for enhanced Feng Shui. I never noticed the pond until I looked at the village from the sky.

The founding family of Tang clan settled and built the first walled village at the northeast part of the River Indus. When the village became over-populated, they built another village along the river in close proximity. In the past five centuries, the villages, walled or un-walled, spread out along the river like water flowing down the stream. The prosperity of the clan is believed to be a blessing from the good Feng Shui.

One very interesting observation is that all these little houses in the villages are arranged in grid, like a Roman settlement. But these different grids were rotated and placed according to the curves of the river and the hills. It must have been a really amazing experience wandering from one village to another along these majestic hills back in the days. Let’s hope that this landscape and Feng Shui can be well preserved and protected.

lung yeuk tau historic trail, fanling, north district, hong kong – 6:29pm, jul 1, 2012