"People make places, not planners"

A quote from my meeting with Becky Lee, an architect I met recently in London, who trained in Glasgow and has been running her own small practice Studio T+S here in Hong Kong for over a year. Our conversation reinforced my research to date; the prevalence of privately owned public space in HK and the increasing tendency for these to be located above the ground. The latter is an emergent trend in London most infamously characterised by Vinoly’s tower on Fenchurch Street, with its ludicrous Sky Garden that can scarcely be classed a public space when a visit requires forward planning.

Becky Lee in the T+S Studio

Becky is currently working on a self-initiated design project for a public park near her home in the city suburbs; an active space that stretches along the waterfront, used by pedestrians, fishermen and cyclists. There are plans, however, led by the municipal Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), to annexe a portion of the length and transform it into a ‘quiet park’, thus terminating the cycle route. One of the reasons given is to mitigate against dangerous cyclists, and light pollution from night fisherman and their torches. As Becky suggest, people are quite good at creating their own usable public space, here, as I see it, the planned space, to be inserted from above is more of a form of a control than provision of amenity.

Becky's sketch of the proposed 'quiet park'

Somewhat ominously, though the plan has yet to be formally agreed or implemented, it is already labelled on Google Maps as a Waterfront Park prefixed by the name of an adjacent developer, Tseung Kwan O.

The LCSD park is already marked on Google Maps, prefixed by the name of a developer

As the government’s plan enters a second stage of consultation, Becky intends to present an alternative proposal to both the local community and LCSD, one that perhaps formalises some of the activity (better segregation of bicycles from pedestrians) but permits them to co-exist. I’ll be visiting the space later this week.


Final Phase

I'm in Hong Kong for the final part of my Travel Fellowship