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Competition: UrbanactionsHK

Contest site: The Wa On Lane Sitting-out Area
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An international student contest is being held to rethink a series of ‘poorly managed and designed’ public spaces across Hong Kong

The free-to-enter anonymous competition seeks proposals to transform three underused pocket parks into new ‘high quality and vibrant public spaces’ intended to boost sociability and a sense of place among residents.

The UrbanactionsHK call for ideas – organised by the School of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong – is part of a three-year research programme aimed at exploring the changing nature of public and private zones within the city, which has a poor track record in providing quality urban realm for its inhabitants.

The competition is open to undergraduate students of architecture, landscape, urban planning and design. 

According to the brief: ‘Hong Kong has been defined as an “IntenCity”, a word that expresses a combination of different urban qualities. However, in this complex urban structure, most of the public spaces, especially those in old urban areas, are poorly managed and designed. These spaces, created by adopting a rigid, top-down approach and general solutions to a variety of sites and different urban conditions, are not attractive and do not facilitate social interaction and community activities.

‘In recent years, the citizens of Hong Kong have started to become more aware of the importance of the public open spaces in the city. This international competition challenges undergraduate students of schools of architecture, landscape, urban planning and design to propose alternative and innovative design schemes to revitalise four public open spaces in the Central district of Hong Kong. In cities today, public space development projects require a flexible approach; no single strategy can address the specific needs of every community or the unique conditions of each public space.’

Hong Kong was founded as a British colony in 1841 and is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Since 1997 it has been a special administrative region of China and, for the past year, has been the focus of major protests against changes to extradition laws.

Recent studies have suggested that Hong Kong citizens have very poor access to outdoor public space, which measures around two square metres by person. Strict rules and prohibitions also limit users’ autonomy within the city’s few parks and ‘sitting out areas’.

UrbanactionsHK invites students to draw up concepts to transform three pocket parks that currently fall short of local expectations: the Wa On Lane Sitting-out Area (pictured), the Kau U Fong Children’s Playground, the Cochrane Street Sitting-out Area, and the Lok Hing Lane temporary Sitting-out Area.

The competition language is English and submissions should include a single A1-size board featuring plans, sections, and perspectives along with a 400-word project description.

Entries will be judged on their innovation and functionality; creative response to the existing site; ability to deliver new design to the surrounding neighbourhood; and capacity to reactivate the sociability of the space.

The jury will include Inge Goudsmit, associate architect at OMA*AMO Asia; Casey Wang, founder of multidisciplinary design practice BLEND; William Sin, founder of the Hong Kong Public Space Initiative; and Joel Chan, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design.

A first prize of US$800 (£600) and runner up prize of US$200 (£150) will be awarded for each site. The winners, to be announced on 15 May, will also be exhibited at the School of Architecture of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and at the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design.

The registration deadline is 24 March and submissions must be completed by 31 March.

How to apply

View the competition website for more information

Contact details

Francesco Rossini
School of Architecture
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Tel: +852 3943 6583
Email: info@urbanactionshk.com

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