De-Reclaiming Central: Planning a New Ecology for Victoria Harbour
Platform: Ecologies Sustainability Regeneration (ESR)

Related Staff : Valerie Portefaix

Students: Hudec Adam, Li Chung Yan, Liu Yelin, Tse Tsz Wai, Yip Tsun Yin, Zhang Zhuan, Kwok Tsz Wai Noella, Lau Siu Yan, Mui Ching Man, Ng Ka Lam, Wong Kin Yin, Wong Nga Suet

Studio name: Architecture & Urban Design

Ecologies Sustainability Regeneration

Victoria Harbour Waterscape

By 2050, among the 10 billion-world population, 75% will live in cities, most of them located on coastlines. In an era of sea level rise, we need to define the condition for urban adaptation to facilitate the survival of the human species in the city, as well as other forms of life, fauna and flora. Ecology needs to hit the heart of the city, and in the specific case of Hong Kong, it is Victoria Harbour.

When major global cities – New York, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh – are in the process of building massive seawalls to protect their urban coastline from future super-storms – Hong Kong Island urgently needs to reinvent a new relationship with its waterfront. The iconic waterfront will serve as interface to project new ecological and infrastructural strategies as an alternative to engineering solutions.

The physical development of Hong Kong has been based on the optimum planning of the sea and land uses. If ecology means planning, an urban ecology needs to consider global issues as much as local ones. City planning mostly operates by regulation, whereas regional, continental or global sets of rules define the framework in which we live. Ecology is primarily an anthropological issue. It frames our social behaviour, lifestyle, and relationship to the environment in which we live, work and entertain.

While remaining the centre of gravity and among the main public spaces of Hong Kong city/territory, Victoria Harbour is too often characterized by its periphery and the impressive surrounding skyline. Our approach focuses on the waterscape as an original open space occupied by fishermen, sailors, pilots, dockers, commuters, tourists and the myriad of movements they all produce. Also, these activities, highly depending on tides, currents and atmospheric conditions, define the unique geography of Hong Kongs mobility.

Geography and the design fields intersect to define a project that develops an innovative approach. By observing, listening, monitoring, and classifying the environment around us, the studio proposes to construct an atlas of the various ecosystems existing in Central. It takes into consideration the multiple layers of history that lead to the fluctuating position of the coastline. Weaving together those lines, an atlas of the “invisible” serves as a base to reveal new potential and perspective of the site.