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Stephen Davies - Back To The Future

China Maritime Conference 2010, Hong Kong.

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… TO THE FUTURE? BACK…
WORKING PORTS WORK… … FOR EVERYONE Once upon a time ours did… … then Hong Kong government planners got to work
1950s a beach at the dockyards in Hunghom 1950s – busy and accessible in Wanchai 1950s – dragon boating in the harbour – no sharp chop
1960s – busy water use and accessibility in Causeway Bay (remember the floating restaurants and the flower boats?) 1960s – murky but accessible in Western
1970s - busy, getting less accessible (spot the railings-on-everything fever beginning) but still…swimmable, though on government figures, it was more polluted then than now!
A dynamic, modern, attractive waterfront and a people friendly harbour are going to require creative destruction of an order of magnitude far beyond the imaginations and capabilities of Hong Kong’s planners and planning system now or at any time in the future Today’s harbour  50% smaller than in 1841 and 35% smaller than in 1965  Its shores used for decades as a waste dump for service buildings, roads, badly designed piers and sea walls and screened by tower blocks commanding harbour views from their windows while blocking everyone else’s!
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Stephen Davies - Back To The Future

  • 1. … TO THE FUTURE? BACK…
  • 2. WORKING PORTS WORK… … FOR EVERYONE Once upon a time ours did… … then Hong Kong government planners got to work
  • 3. 1950s a beach at the dockyards in Hunghom 1950s – busy and accessible in Wanchai 1950s – dragon boating in the harbour – no sharp chop
  • 4. 1960s – busy water use and accessibility in Causeway Bay (remember the floating restaurants and the flower boats?) 1960s – murky but accessible in Western
  • 5. 1970s - busy, getting less accessible (spot the railings-on-everything fever beginning) but still…swimmable, though on government figures, it was more polluted then than now!
  • 6. A dynamic, modern, attractive waterfront and a people friendly harbour are going to require creative destruction of an order of magnitude far beyond the imaginations and capabilities of Hong Kong’s planners and planning system now or at any time in the future Today’s harbour 50% smaller than in 1841 and 35% smaller than in 1965 Its shores used for decades as a waste dump for service buildings, roads, badly designed piers and sea walls and screened by tower blocks commanding harbour views from their windows while blocking everyone else’s!
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  • 10. Welcome to a prescriptively designed, pastiche, waterfront experience cut off from the sea behind a barrier at least 3m vertically above high water level, difficult of access because of roads and further barriers between it and the CBD, and without the maritime museum being properly integrated with the design because it wasn’t in the original plan.
  • 11. During 15 months after the relocation of the maritime museum was part of the Chief Executive’s Policy Address, this fact was not mentioned in ANY of the EIGHT papers presented by Development Bureau to the Legislative Council’s Panel on Development’s Subcommittee on Harbourfront Planning. Nor, twelve months after, did it appear – or any effort to accommodate a museum and its needs appear – in the latest concept drawing…
  • 12. Here’s what HKMM will TRY to do to make a difference
  • 13. The Seawise Giant, Happy Giant, Jahre Viking, Knock Nevis BIG!! On the beach at Alang waiting to be broken up
  • 14. So the key feature of Hong Kong’s new Central Waterfront ? It weighs 29 tonnes. It stands 7m-8m tall. We want it to stand in the approaches to the museum as a monument to the tens of thousands of seamen, fisherfolk, dockyard workers, stevedores, tugmen and lightermen, and shipbreakers who died in war and peace to build our home. The anchor from what was once the world’s largest ship, now being scrapped, which was owned or managed for over 25 years by Hong Kong shipping companies Government will probably nix it. It wasn’t their idea. It wasn’t in the original plan. Who are these sea people and why do they matter anyway…

Editor's Notes

  1. What happened? Basically the plans were made by people with zero, nada, zilch, no understanding of the water as a human resource. They didn’t – and don’t - understand shipping. They didn’t – and don’t – understand watersports. They didn’t – and don’t – understand anything much outside roads, concrete and the urban jungle. If there was no harbour they would have achieved the Hong Kong planners nirvana.
  2. Look at it today. No beaches. No cross harbour swimming. No dockyards. No wharves. No access. It’s a government planned and created ditch for sewage, fast motor boats, and with sides a dumping ground for roads, service buildings fronted by vertical walls that bounce waves off to maximize chop in the harbour. An idiot’s guide to how to ruin one of the most beautiful harbours in the world…for everyone.