UK studio presents bold concepts for central waterfront site

September 25, 2017 15:42
Do you fancy fluent commercial and recreational structures with verdant greenery on the Central waterfront? Photo: Benoy

Bold designs for the overhaul of Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront have been proposed by an award-winning architecture studio with the aim of adding a crowning glory to the renowned skyline and harbour attraction.

An urban design team from United Kingdom-based Benoy has presented its ideas to fuel conversation and promote innovative thinking for the future of the New Central Harbourfront Site 3, which spans from Jardine House to the Central Ferry Piers, and is part of the government’s new Central Harbourfront initiative.

The reclaimed land parcel is currently being rented out for temporary recreational use and is now the site of an observation wheel, whose operation has been suspended since August due to bickerings arising from the short lease as well as the government’s indecision as to how to utilize the prime waterfront area.

The Development Bureau said while a new three-year lease has just been awarded to the new operator of the wheel, it would commence public consultation on this precious chunk of Hong Kong’s harbourfront, following the demolition of the Central Post Office and the completion of the Central to Wan Chai bypass that goes beneath it, for a permanent, holistic development plan.

Benoy’s planning brief for the site, while commercially driven, offers the opportunity to maximize benefits for citizens and visitors, conceptualizing a range of solutions with input from BuroHappold Engineering. Three of these concepts are represented by the thematic code names “Urban Forest”, “Glacier” and “Coral Reef”.

“Each solution has different characteristics, but all respond to the need for connectivity, activity and a rich mix of uses within the plot,” explained Benoy global design director Simon Bee.

“These serial concepts offer an early, visual representation of how Site 3 might be transformed to become a new waterfront destination that is an accessible, attractive public place, but also commercially viable.

"We hope to encourage the design and development community in Hong Kong to push the planning brief to its full potential.”

Benoy is behind renowned projects such as the interior design of Hong Kong airport’s iconic Terminal 1, Singapore’s Changi Airport Terminal 4, Parc Central in Guangzhou, Shanghai ICC and iAPM, Ferrari Theme Park in Dubai, Westfield London and the Commercial Masterplan for the ambitious Heathrow Airport expansion.

The company also designed some major shopping centers in Hong Kong including The Elements in West Kowloon, Hysan Place in Causeway Bay and APM in Kwun Tong. Recently it spurred debate with its radical concept to “pedestrianize” Des Voeux Road Central, a key thoroughfare running through the heart of Central.

Benoy’s illustrations for the Central waterfront were recently unveiled at a multiple-panel event, Shaping Hong Kong’s New Central Harbourfront, organized by the Urban Land Institute with support from Benoy, BuroHappold Engineering and local non-profit organization Designing Hong Kong.

The symposium took place at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, right next door to the site concerned, with a series of panel discussions that explored the challenges and opportunities surrounding the sale process and future use of Site 3.

Panel moderators and participants from across industries and sectors ensured a lively and thought-provoking discussion.

“The redevelopment of Site 3 will shape its future use and will change Hong Kong’s iconic skyline,” said John Fitzgerald, chief executive of ULI Asia Pacific.

“We hope to engage industry leaders and the public in discussion about the city’s future and to share international best practice.”

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Read more:

Wheel row: How bureaucrats are taking everyone for a ride 

An artist's impression of a conceptual plan for the site's redevelopment. Photo: Benoy
A bird's eye view of the wave-like structures that aim to complement the nearby harbour. Photo: Benoy
Another proposed redevelopment plan. Photo: Benoy
Another plan features a chain of "water drops" housing shops and observation decks dotting the waterfront site. Photo: Benoy