ACLA introduce a green city landscape to the heart of Hong Kong
The Greening Master Plans (GMPs) propose a landscape framework which is intended to link together the existing green spaces and introduce greening to the city streets. Themes are proposed for each district, which take account of the characteristics of the district. The themes are expressed by means of a palette of different tree and shrub species for each theme area. The development and implementation of GMPs were carried out in three phases.
The first phase covered Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. The second phase covered Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok. The third phase covered the remaining urban areas of Hong Kong. ACLA and Hyder were responsible for the development and implementation of GMPs for most urban districts, except the development of GMPs for Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok and the implementation of GMPs for Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. Success factors of the project include GIS Data management, extensive public consultation and compliance with the specification on planting materials and methods.
The GMPs differ from most landscape design projects in that they are attempts to ‘retrofit' an existing infrastructure that is in many instances hostile to greening and jammed with conflicting demands for limited available space. The design of the works had to take into account a myriad of factors including sightline issues, signage, advertisement visibility, drainage, access to fire hydrants, manholes, street lighting, CCTV and signaling posts, underground utilities, the feasibility of obtaining Excavation Permits and Temporary Traffic Arrangements for the works, noise restrictions during construction, litter invasion, dog fouling, pedestrian desire lines, loading and unloading, illegal parking, vehicle pollution, the requirements of traditional festivals and ceremonies that commonly take place on the streets, and maintenance access requirements, not to mention the final aesthetic appearance and public expectation of greening.
The majority of new greening was proposed and carried out on government land, mainly consisting of areas of wide footpath, road medians and traffic islands. Some existing roadside planting areas with poor quality greening were also enhanced with additional tree planting and replacement of shrubs and groundcovers.
Unlike most landscape design projects GMP works are not carried out discretely behind site hoardings; rather they are carried out in the public footpath in full view of the public so that any delay or plant failure is highly visible and will immediately attract complaints. Coupled with the fact that the greening works consist of a multitude of comparatively small independent planting areas each requiring its own Excavation Permit and Temporary Traffic Arrangement applications, a high degree of coordination is required on the part of the contractors; and constant efforts by the site supervision and contractor personnel are needed to ensure the best possible quality of plant material and follow up maintenance.
Despite the uniquely challenging physical constraints and public pressures, the GMPs have successfully resulted in the planting of 25,160 trees and 5,295,000 shrubs in the urban areas to date, of which 23,910 trees and 4,995,000 shrubs were planted under contracts supervised by ACLA / Hdyer.
The planting has been well received by the public largely because of the dramatic local environmental improvements brought about by the implementation of the GMPs. It is this social and psychological impact of the greening, and the localized shading and cooling effects that are the preeminent benefits.