HONG KONG (June 1, 2011) — Hong Kong’s lively, energetic high-density urban environment can be enhanced with a more sustainable approach to new large-scale development that emphasizes connections to street life, according to a new report, Ten Principles for a Sustainable Approach to New Development, released today by the Urban Land Institute (ULI).
According to the report, the massive scale of the podium-style developments, that have been built in recent years in the city, have increasingly lost their functional relationship to the urban street grid, often resulting in the isolation of land uses and the separation of public space from existing neighborhoods.
“Hong Kong needs an alternative approach to large-scale development that will strengthen its unique identity as a vibrant high-density city,” the report says. “Integrated land use development can contribute more positively to the surrounding urban districts by embracing networks and providing synergistic uses. This strategy will allow for a sensitive approach to land use planning in Hong Kong and will result in greater value to the city.”
The Urban Land Institute is a research and education institute, with nearly 30,000 members worldwide, dedicated to leadership in the responsible use of land and to the development of thriving, sustainable communities. ULI Asia serves the Institute’s nearly 1,000 members in North Asia, South Asia, Japan and Australia. The report is the result of a grant awarded to ULI Asia through ULI’s Community Action Grant program to support the creation of an alternative development approach for sustainable developments that are better integrated with adjacent areas, environmentally friendly, and pedestrian- and transit-oriented to improve the quality of life of residents, while adding long-term value to cities.
The research project supporting the report was led by Dr. Sujata S. Govada of Urban Design and Planning Consultants Ltd. It involved an analysis of recent Hong Kong developments and benchmarked them against regional and international case studies. As part of the project, ULI conducted a workshop, which included academicians, developers, investors, and other community stakeholders. Workshop participants developed ten principles for more sustainable development that could be applied not just to Hong Kong, but to large-scale developments throughout the region.
The ten principles:
- Build On Your Strengths — Rethink the strategic vision and policy framework
Great cities share a balance of livable features, including waterfront development, a high-quality public realm, open space networks, a unique urban identity, landmark developments, urban regeneration, heritage conservation, housing, transport, and mobility choice. These can all be leveraged with strong leadership – a champion with a strategic city vision backed by a clear policy framework, sound governance, and proactive decision making.
- Create Great Places — Adopt a place-making approach
Through use of a place-making and sustainable approach, large-scale new development can work well with the surrounding area to create a character and personality in line with the district vision.
- Extend the Urban Grid — Develop to an appropriate scale and density
If planned with appropriate block size, development density, scale, typology, and mix of uses, large-scale developments can become more integrated with the surrounding area, minimizing isolation.
- Open Up Public Space — Provide accessible public open space
Ideally, public open space at ground level should be physically and visually connected to public open space at upper levels, encouraging its use by the public.
- Integrate Infrastructure — Ensure transport and infrastructure integration
Large-scale developments should be well integrated with infrastructure, the surrounding transport network, and adjacent areas to provide access to public space and to enhance the interface at the ground and upper levels of developments in neighboring districts.
- Activate the Streets — Enhance street level interface and a continuity
It is important to ensure that the building meets the street in a pedestrian-friendly manner to ensure that the streets are vibrant and active. There is a strong relationship between the size of the block and the road footprint surrounding the block, both of which determine the amount of activity on the street.
- Keep It Flexible — Facilitate good urban design and a flexible zoning
It is the government’s role to set the rules for developers to follow, allowing enough flexibility to promote good urban design and more integrated and sustainable development.
- Promote Sustainability — Go beyond sustainable building design
During planning, the focus should not be solely on the sustainability of buildings within the development; it should also consider the development’s integration with the adjacent areas, and its impact on the district and the city as a whole.
- Engage People Early On — Enable upfront public engagement
The planning process should involve more stakeholders and integrate people from diverse backgrounds to obtain input at an early stage. Upfront public engagement is important in integrating wider groups of local communities so there is a clear vision for the area, and issues do not surface later on.
- Manage, Control, and Coordinate — Implement coordinated management control
A development with multiple owners can contribute to diversity, but one owner with multiple designers can also contribute to diversity. The key is coordinated management control, whether that management is by the public or private sector, or involves a single developer or multiple developers.
“The ULI Ten Principles for a Sustainable Approach to New Development are intended to influence future large- scale developments in Hong Kong and the region in order to promote creation of great places that are more pedestrian- and environmentally friendly,” the report says. “They aim to ensure that any large-scale new or redevelopment project is well integrated into its surroundings, is more sustainable, and will add long-term value to the city.”
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.
About ULI Asia and Japan
Across Asia Pacific and Japan, the Institute has nearly 1,000 members in Japan, Greater China, Southeast Asia and Australia. ULI Asia Pacific and Japan brings together industry leaders with a common commitment to improving professional standards, seeking the best use of land, and following excellent practices.
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