The Public Engagement of West Kowloon Cultural District

In 1991, the Planning Department announced the 1991 Metroplan. The report serves as a defense of its largest reclamation plan in Hong Kong’s history. The plan designated the 333 hectare reclaimed land in West Kowloon to be used to decrease the population density of West Kowloon in general. At the same time, the plan stated that the area lacks large public parks, and suggested to build the West Kowloon District Park, larger than the size of Victoria Park, at the south end of the West Kowloon Reclamation Area.

In 1992, the Town Planning Board passed the South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan, and confirmed that the south end of the reclamation area would be used to build a major district park. The area of the park would be over 20 hectares, which is about 50% of the total area of the reclamation area’s ground open space.

However, in October 1998, the then Chief Executive Mr. Chee-hwa Tung suggested to build a West Kowloon Cultural District rather than the West Kowloon District Park due to the economic downturn.

In July 2003, the Town Planning Board approved the idea. The board amended the South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan, which rezoned over 20 hectares of ‘Open Space’ into land for ‘Other Use’ and specified its purpose for Arts, Culture, Commercial and Recreational. After the decision was made, only 23.09 hectares of open space is left in the West Kowloon Reclamation Area.

Although in June 2007, the then Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs Bureau, Mrs. Carrie Lam, stated that the 40 hectare West Kowloon Cultural District would provide at least 20 hectares of public open space, with an additional 3 hectare plaza, she emphasized that public open space would not necessarily be on ground level. In short, there would be only a number of smaller parks spread across the tops of shopping malls and podiums of residential complexes that would add up to roughly about 20 hectares

Community Cultural Concern (CCC) has participated in the planning process of the West Kowloon Cultural District in two ways. Firstly, the CCC has joined ‘People’s Panel on West Kowloon’ to encourage direct communication between government officials and artist through public hearings. Secondly, the CCC held public planning workshops to allow citizens to express their suggestions as well as to demonstrate the process of ‘Bottom-up Planning’ in which citizens could participate during the planning process.  Between 2006 and 2007, CCC held 10 public planning workshops in various locations, such as schools, community centres and West Kowloon, 800 people participated in one of the 10 workshops.

wk1

Firstly, the participants of the “West Kowloon Planning Workshop" went to observe the site.

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Then, the participants were divided into groups and started to plan the Cultural District.

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The participants integrated all ideas of each group into a final plan.

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The participants displayed the final plan.

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The final proposal from one of our workshops

From the workshops,     we understood what citizens actually want to see in the area, including restaurants or stalls selling local Hong Kong snacks, public space and street culture (e.g street dance, forums).

We also came up with a planning and design guidelines for the West Kowloon Cultural District. We suggest the following principles:

  1. Anti-Segregation Principle
  • Integrated with the surrounding area (West Kowloon in general)
  • Fully Accessible
  • Network of squares and green belts
  • Network of cultural facilities and spaces
  1. Cultural Diversity Projects
  • Social Inclusion
  • Human-scale principle
  1. Art Production Principle
  • Encourage the setup of cultural facilities by people
  • Art training base
  1. Bottom-up Planning Principle
  • Long-term participatory planning
  • Sustainable developmentwk8

(Left) The facilities that the citizens want inside the Cultural District (Ordered by the demand of the public); (Right) The planning and design guideline that CCC proposed through the workshops

We also proposed a site plan of West Kowloon Cultural District based on the suggestions provided by citizens as well as providing an area for Core Arts and Cultural Facilities.

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CCC’s plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District

The proposal consists a Central Park.

In 2009, the three consultants that were invited to propose proposals for the design for the project, contacted CCC for resident’s suggestions gathered during the workshops. We believe that the consultants have followed the guidelines, including Foster + Partners’ ‘City Park’ proposal, the proposal that was chosen later on.

wk7Foster+Partners’ Proposal

 

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