Friday, February 3

Hong Kong’s colourful new ‘pocket parks’ are revitalizing public areas


Written by Rebecca Cairns, CNN

Contributors Dan Hodge, Lauren Lau

Bright pink and scattered with octagonal stools, Portland Street Rest Garden is an Instagrammer’s dream. But this park, wedged between two excessive rises on a bustling Hong Kong avenue, is not stuffed with influencers posing for images: as an alternative, native retirees play checkers on fuchsia gameboards, whereas aged neighbors gossip on the rose-colored benches, purple grass swaying within the planters behind.

While 75% of Hong Kong’s territory, which incorporates greater than 200 islands, is made up of lush jungle and nation parks, city Hong Kong is brief on area. Its residents have simply 2.7 square meters (29.1 sq. toes) of public area per individual, based on non-profit suppose tank Civic Exchange — in comparison with 5.8 to 7.6 sq. meters (62.4 to 81.8 sq. foot) per individual in different dense Asian metropolises like Singapore, Tokyo, and Shanghai. There’s a correlation between entry to nature and good psychological well being, with individuals residing nearer to public open areas reporting less anxiety than these residing additional away.
The designers split Portland Street Rest Garden down the middle, restoring one side in the style of a 1980s park, while the other was given a bright pink look.

The designers break up Portland Street Rest Garden down the center, restoring one facet within the type of a Eighties park, whereas the opposite was given a brilliant pink look. Credit: Design Trust

Parks just like the one on Portland Street can due to this fact supply a reprieve from the compact towers most individuals stay in.

Its eye-catching design is the results of a makeover by Design Trust, a non-profit that helps design-based packages. The group has been redesigning 4 of town’s micro parks in a bid to make a “macro transformation” to public area, stated Marisa Yiu, co-founder and govt director of Design Trust.

In distinction to different parks within the metropolis, a lot of which have the identical, generic look — impartial tiles or concrete slabs, fenced-off greenery, and single-seat benches — Design Trust needed to interrupt the mildew, by creating distinct designs that would showcase communities’ “distinctive tales.”

Working alongside the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), which manages public parks in Hong Kong, 4 totally different groups conceptualized the redesign of the the micro parks. At Portland Street, the redesign elevated seating capability from 16 to 81 individuals, and greenery by 26%.

Play is for the individuals

Design ideas for the parks had been created in 2018, however the pandemic meant the LCSD and the Architectural Services Department did not start building till 2021. The challenge, referred to as “Play is for the individuals,” centered round enjoyable.

“Play needs to be accessible for all ages, whether or not it is adults taking part in chess or children working round,” stated Yiu.

The team behind Yi Pei Square, at the park. From left to right: Kay Chan, Stephen Ip, Jonathan Mak, Christopher Choi, and Design Trust founder Marisa Yiu.

The workforce behind Yi Pei Square, on the park. From left to proper: Kay Chan, Stephen Ip, Jonathan Mak, Christopher Choi, and Design Trust founder Marisa Yiu. Credit: Design Trust

And play is certainly on the middle of the challenge’s first park, Yi Pei Square, in Tsuen Wan, which opened in April 2021. The lengthy, skinny courtyard is surrounded by condo blocks and was a paved space, principally used as a footpath. But Design Trust reworked the 930-square-meter (10,010-square-foot) web site right into a “communal front room” with play areas, train zones and benches.

Involving the neighborhood was a key a part of the method. Creating prototypes of various parts of the park, the workforce held exhibitions in co-working areas and malls to check their concepts and engaged residents in suggestions classes the place kids instructed video games, and the form and measurement of playground buildings, just like the slide which was widened to permit them to race down it two at a time. “The designers realized rather a lot about how individuals stay,” stated Yiu. “What you see now in Yi Pei Square is generated by the neighborhood.”

At the park on Portland Street, which opened in September 2021, the design workforce needed to modernize the location whereas nonetheless highlighting the realm’s historical past.

To stability out the daring colour, the workforce determined to separate the 376-square-meter (4,047-square-foot) park in half with a zig-zag line down the middle: whereas one facet is Barbie-pink, the opposite is restored to appear like a typical Hong Kong relaxation backyard from the Eighties, full with hexagonal geometry, bamboo and shaded seating areas.

For the designers, pink was the right option to revitalize the park: it conjures up pleasure and compassion, and contrasts with the greenery of the foliage, to create a vibrant but enjoyable environment, stated Yiu.

“The designers had been so empowered by this colour that it simply made sense,” she added.

The design for Portland Street Rest Garden is now divided in two, showcasing the old, restored style and the new, modern pink design.

The design for Portland Street Rest Garden is now divided in two, showcasing the outdated, restored type and the brand new, fashionable pink design. Credit: Design Trust

Many residents agree. Now in his seventies, Mr Kong, who did not give his first title, has lived within the neighborhood for many years and visits the park each day: he likes the park’s new structure and says it’s cleaner than earlier than. Peter, who’s in his sixties, eats his lunch there most days now. He says he is grateful for these small parks, as they provide individuals area exterior of their properties.

Short on area

Bringing new concepts on design public areas may be difficult. Some examples Yiu factors to discovered all through town — resembling benches and chairs with limitations, or at sloping angles — can truly discourage individuals from lounging or enjoyable, including that it has taken time to persuade planners to embrace extra versatile areas, resembling benches with out limitations, or moveable furnishings.

From left to right: Co-founder and executive director of the Design Trust, Marisa Yiu, and Ricky Lai, Kam Fai Hung and Xavier Tsang who were part of the design team behind Portland Street Rest Garden.

From left to proper: Co-founder and govt director of the Design Trust, Marisa Yiu, and Ricky Lai, Kam Fai Hung and Xavier Tsang who had been a part of the design workforce behind Portland Street Rest Garden. Credit: Design Trust

And the groups are continually studying from how the parks are getting used, and adapting their present and future designs accordingly. For instance, at Portland Street, tables and chairs have suffered from chipped paint. Now, Design Trust is exploring extra resilient paint and coating supplies. “These are the issues that you would be able to’t do with out testing, and trial and error,” stated Yiu.

The Design Trust is not the one group getting artistic with Hong Kong’s restricted area. In May 2022, town’s first rooftop skatepark opened at H.A.N.D.S shopping center in Tuen Mun, becoming a member of the present rooftop basketball courtroom designed by One Bite Studio. Other basketball courts throughout town have been embellished with colourful designs too, together with Shek Lei Grind Court which used 20,000 pairs of recycled Nike sneakers for its rubber floor.

The authorities has green-lit the rejuvenation of an additional 170 parks and playgrounds in a five-year challenge. While this may not be in collaboration with HKDT, Yiu stated that the micro park pilot has helped to “mobilize and speed up” the brand new coverage. A spokesperson from the LCSD stated that modern designs would make parks extra enticing, and together with tasks resembling an inclusive playground constructed at Tuen Mun Park, the expertise and design processes from the micro park pilot will assist to “implement the transformation of public play areas.”
Yi Pei Square has space for children to play, as well as an exercise zone for elderly people and areas to socialize and gather.

Yi Pei Square has area for youngsters to play, in addition to an train zone for aged individuals and areas to socialize and collect. Credit: Design Trust

Heritage by design

Design Trust’s third park, Hamilton Street in Yau Ma Tei, is about to open in October, whereas the fourth will open by the top of the yr. The design workforce for Hamilton Park is commemorating the realm’s wealthy historical past of workmanship.

Home to historic buildings and temples, the realm has many “sifu,” or grasp craftspeople, whose companies have survived generations. Design Trust commissioned them to supply parts of the park, resembling copper lighting, in addition to signage constructed from the distinctive chopping boards seen at butchers across the metropolis.

“It provides a chance to the designers, nevertheless it additionally (sparks) neighborhood transformation.”

Marisa Yiu, founding father of Hong Kong Design Trust

The preservation of an outdated banyan tree on the park’s edge is one other nod to the previous, whereas a big desk within the middle of the park serves as a focus for the neighborhood to collect.

According to Yiu, the price of every park is similar per sq. meter because the generic parks seen elsewhere across the metropolis — apart from Yi Pei Square, which obtained some further funding.

She hopes that these prototype pocket parks will encourage cities to suppose extra creatively concerning the design of public areas and step away from the “cookie cutter system.”

“We don’t desire 20,000 pink parks,” Yiu stated. “Design Trust is basically Hong Kong’s heritage, the challenges of a park’s context, but in addition well being and wellbeing, and sustainable futures. Each park has a solution to interact in another way. It’s a cultural duty for everybody to be concerned.”


2022-09-19 13:48:55

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