Tamar – HK Govt aesthetics rooted in concrete

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #6943

    email circular from Christine Loh of Civic Exchange:

    Government’s decision to use the Tamar site for government offices continues to be challenged from various quarters. Whatever you think, watching how the Tsang Administration takes the matter forward offers insights into its governing style and sense of aesthetics.

    A. Tamar in context

    1. Size and density: Plans allow for the Tamar development to be very large (3.69 million sq ft). On 3/9/05. the Transport Department (TD) said the government would provide enough space to allow for over 800 parking spaces. To respond to critics, officials said this week they will control height and provide for 400 parking spaces.

    2. Reason to relocate: (i) Need more space; and (iii) CGO and Murrary Building “are too old for effective conversion into technologically modern offices”. Furthermore, (iii) it will create jobs.

    3. Design and Build: It will adopt a D&B apporach to achieve “early implementation”. The government will prepare for contractor prequalification in 4Q05-1Q06; consult LegCo and get funding 2Q06; tender in early 2007 with completion in 2010.

    4. Cost: Current estimate HK$4.9 billion to build, and annual cost of HK$1 billion.

    B. Lets hurry …

    1. Identities of occupants: The government has not worked out who will move to Tamar and why they need more space.

    2. Current locations: Whatever studies may have been done on space efficiency at CGO and other government offices have not been released. No reasons have been given for why in situ expansion is not possible, or that jobs can also be created in in situ expansion.

    3. Upgrade: No acknowledgement to the fact that many cities have successfully upgraded very old buildings to enjoy modern technological functions.

    4. Security arrangements: How much space will be needed at the Tamar site for security arrangements and thus reduce space for public enjoyment.

    C. Concrete and hardware paradise

    1. Central waterfront: From IFC2 to HKCEC, current plans allow for some 10 million sq ft of GFA to be added along this short stretch. This requires the provision of 2 major highway systems, one below ground (Central Wanchai Bypass) and one above ground “Road P2”.

    2. Roads paradise: If you look at maps, the roads that will immediately surround the Tamar site will occupy almost as much space as the site itself. The “spaghettis” that will be created between Tamar and HKCEC will be horrendous (this is not an exaggeration).

    3. Quality of open space: By having this density of development and roads, the qualitative experience of pedestrians along the harbour-front is almost certain to be sub-optimal.

    4. Skywalkers: By the way, in future people will not be able to walk at sea level to the harbour-front. In order to cross the highways, all crossings will be raised on bridges and rooftops. What this means is that maximum space is being given to roads. This will also be the case in Tsimshatsui.

    5. Environment forgotten: The environmental conditions (air quality, noise, congestion etc) take a back seat.

    D. Observations … what matters

    1. “Asia world city” sense of aesthetics: Hong Kong leaders’ sense of aesthetics is rooted in concrete, providing shopping malls for tourists, and to give itself an office that competes with the financial/commercial sector. Staying in CGO and creating green spaces to lower density is considered anti-development.

    2. Love for roads: Road planning dominates urban design. Cars matter more than pedestrians.

    3. In a hurry but not ready: Rushing ahead is seen as being efficient, nevermind if there is still much to work out. There is no appetite for sustainable alternatives under the concrete sense of aesthetics.

    Civic Exchange – HK’s independent think tank


    from another circular from Christine Loh:

    1. DT (=Donald Tsang) wants Tamar: Comments of self-glorification are surfacing since the government cannot justify taking the largest and best piece of land for offices when there are other ways to add space. Government refused to release a 1990s report on in situ expansion. Legislators want it because they can then assess whether spending HK$4.5 billion is truly necessary.

    2. Other criticisms emerging: No responsible organisation moves offices without an intensive review of existing space and needs, which has not been done.

    3. Is it worth it?: Having lost West Kowloon, is it worth having another punch-up on another poorly thought out project? Some commentators say DT cannot afford to lose Tamar because he already lost West Kowloon, which is strange logic.

    4. Express strong government: Does DT think “strong government” needs to be expressed through a large expensive complex?

    5. History lessons: Ancient rulers (pharaohs/emperors) built amazing structures to glorify their reigns. Outstanding modern political leaders give their people freedom, equality, democracy, far-sighted policies etc. DT has a choice.


    from Designing Hong Kong Harbour District:

    Harbour Views: What is your plan for Central and Tamar?

    Do you agree with Government? Do you agree with the harbour planners? Do you have other ideas? Do you want a better plan? Here is your chance – three constructive events to help Government and politicians create a harbour-front Hong Kong residents can proudly take their guests to.

    This Sunday, April 30, 2006, 2:30 to 5:00 pm, on Tamar

    On this last day before Tamar closes to the public, you can your voice be heard and to let your ideas be seen. You are invited to make or bring a kite with your wish for Tamar, and help break the record for kite flying in Hong Kong. As there is lots of space, anyone with a performance or activity is welcome to make this a fun day.

    ‘Our Tamar Day’ is organized by Action Group on Protection of the Harbour, United Social Service Central Limited, Office of Legislative Councilor Dr Kwok Ka Ki, Society for the Protection of the Harbour, Hong Kong Alternatives, Friends of the Harbour and Designing Hong Kong Harbour District.

    Next week, Sunday, May 7, 2006, 2:30 to 5:00pm, Caritas Hall, 2 Caine Road

    Government, business, political parties and NGO’s are invited to present their ideas for Central and Tamar. Following the presentation, the Public is invited to join a debate and discuss the pros and cons of each proposal.

    Next month, Sunday, May 21, 2006, 2:30 to 5:00pm, Edinburgh Square

    With the information gathered on May 7, the Public is now invited to participate in a design charrette. This highly interactive process allows you to draw your ideas for the best urban, transport and marine plan for Central and Tamar.

    The ‘Community Planning in Action’ events are organized by the Central and Western District Council together with Citizen Envisioning & Harbour – an alliance which includes the Business Environment Council, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in Hong Kong, Centre of Urban Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Hong Kong, Conservancy Association, Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Hong Kong People’s Council for Sustainable Development, American Institute of Architects – Hong Kong Chapter, Designing Hong Kong Harbour District, LIVE.Architecture Programme, Department of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Urban Design Alliance, Save Our Shorelines, Sustainable Development Concept Magazine “SEE”, Central and Western District Development Concern Group, Division on Building Science and Technology City University, Hong Kong Council for Social Services, Caritas Mok Cheung Sui Kun Community Centre, Caritas Community Centre – Caine Road, St. James’ Settlement, Hong Kong Christian Service.

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/04/25 03:51


    If you’re not keen on the HK Government spending HK$5 billion on new office building at Tamar, right on prime land by the harbour, visit Civic Exchange to send an ecard to government: 


    email received:

    Concerning the debate about Tamar and Dioxins, might I direct your
    >attention to a blog post of mine.
    >The assertions made by Dr. Sarah Liao and her media spokespersons
    >are not rooted in science and could be quite hazardous to Hong
    >Kong’s environment. As I note in my blog post, the reason the EPD
    >can claim dioxins have not been found in marine sediment in Victoria
    >Harbour is because the EPD doesn’t test for dioxins. I provide links
    >in my blog post to the online data provided by EPD on Marine
    >Sediment and Water Testing between 1998-2004 and you can check the
    >list of contaminants tested for. Dioxins are not on the list.
    >Given the list of standard contaminants being tested for does not
    >contain dioxins, my guess is that the government’s Environmental
    >Impact Assessment for the Tamar site never tested for dioxins as
    >As for the assertion that dioxins are not found at naval shipyards
    >and only at mass incinerators, note the debacle at Penny’s Bay and
    >the acquisition of the Cheoy Lee Shipyard for the construction of
    >Thomas Legg

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.