Aedas’s Central Reclamation Urban Design Study landscape project in Hong Kong, PRC was completed in 2008. The master plan includes a landscaping, urban design, and architectural plan of the downtown area in Hong Kong. The Central harbour component of Hong Kong’s downtown was the study area that poses the question of urban metabolism, aesthetic, and useability for the city.

 A large portion of the cityscape are modern architecture skyscrapers and buildings that take control of the city’s skyline, with the harbour holding a prime location in front of these buildings. The space is the connecting component to the urban and the water.This space becomes a vital aspect of the urban – one that ties together all components of the earth and the urban into one site. The master plan by Aedas proposes an open landscaping concept to bring together community and nature within the heart of the city.

Historically, ports and harbours in seascape towns are the life and blood of the city itself. Through the circulation of goods still primarily using water as it’s source, the importance of creating a built connection to the waterfront is vital to a city’s strength. This land is also one of the most sought after land within a cityscape because of the location. The ocean views that can never be hidden by more buildings. The ability to reach water within a block or two from a building and being the forefront of the city make this space the most desirable for people.

Central Reclamation Urban Design Study by Aedas - Sheet1
Central Reclamation Design Study_©Aedas, 2008.

Aedas’s master plan focuses the importance of human circulation and ability to view the ocean itself over the ease of circulating goods and materials. This is often a barrier for such an architect figuring out the importance of design aesthetic with the vitalities of a city. What the city needs to function and flow is not always what people want to see within their daily life. People enjoy the remainder of the beauty of the natural world, especially when living within a large urban space such as Hong Kong.

This plan promotes landscape design as the main character of the project, with mixed use and open public spaces used to emphasise the importance of the people within the city. The plan reminds Hong Kong about health and beauty whilst framing the city beautifully with natural elements. The ability to take a walk in natural components is a daily activity taken for granted in many places. This improves mental and physical health of the people in Hong Kong, creates a desirable work / live setting for the citizens, and will help with the health of the urban.

The plan also increasingly creates a space for communal activities such as festivals, meetings, and familial gatherings. The open spaces are intertwined by pockets of heavy greenery and landscaping, thus providing shelter from natural elements, the ability to run around in nodes, and the creation of a versatile space. The pathways are paved but also flow in-between these pockets of landscape and buildings that further strengthen the story of the natural harmonising with the urban. These paths will create a different view of the city of Hong Kong depending on where the person is on the built pathway.

Central Reclamation Design Study_©Aedas, 2008.

Aedas provides a view of the whole site that further emphasises the greenery running throughout the city, such blood within veins. The greenery and landscaping elements contrast with the towering skyscrapers on the Hong Kong skyline, and provide a barrier between the ocean and the city. Also, the topography of the site has not changed a large amount; the addition of roots, plants, trees, and other landscaping elements only helps strengthen the ground beneath the city. Protection from the invitable sea level rise and soil toxicity should be mitigated by adding nature in the town.

The importance of variability within a city has merit, and a significant discussion within the architectural realm. The ability for a firm to propose both architectural, urban design, and landscaping plans and knowledge to clients, as Aedas does, provides a discussion that hits more ways of thinking then just an architectural firm does. Planning needs to consider the city as a whole, whilst going down to the details of the multi-purpose buildings on the sites. The ability to have a team of designers that are able to provide such services, is a team that understands the aspect of design as a profession. It is not about right and wrong answers when it is about furthering the discussion about our living situations as a community. Each individual has input about where they live, and the ability to provide spaces for these people to continue to thrive. In a way that promotes better health and aesthetics is where architectural design firms are heading. Aedas is a prime example of this.

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