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Old July 1st, 2007, 07:18 PM   #401
Rachmaninov
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Any building activities will have a potential to block seaviews from adjacent buildings, especially in a dense place like Hong Kong. I don't think lowering plot-ratios is really going to help at all...
And besides, it might be a better idea that part of IFC II is obstructed by some other building (provided that the building is nice of course) anyway...
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 07:15 AM   #402
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That sinking feeling Can you love a harbour?
Many people do, and wish town planners did

1 July 2007
South China Morning Post

Chan Tsu-wing, chief captain on the Star Ferry, hopes the cross-harbour service he has helped provide for 23 years will continue well beyond the next decade: but first it must survive the rapid deterioration of the harbour environment that has gathered pace in the past 10 years.

Sailing at least six times a day back and forth between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central, the 52-year-old mariner has carried thousands of commuters and sightseers on the city's oldest transport fleet. The ferry service hasn't changed much in decades: it still has the familiar crewmen, the green and white boats, the star logo and the smell of diesel.

But the ferry operator has been struggling. The changing harbour landscape has meant fewer passengers and forced the service to bid farewell to some core elements - the pier and clock tower in Central, for example.

The disappearance of these structures - some call them part of the city's "collective memory" - may have been inevitable as the city reshapes and reinvents itself and reclaims its harbour - for better or worse.

The city has always been thirsty for land, so reclamation became a normal practice and a winning formula for development.

Captain Chan has seen the harbour's changes first-hand, from the deck of his ferry, and now he believes there is increasingly something wrong with the winning formula.

"The harbour is getting narrower and the sea becomes so rough sometimes that you can't just sail through the waves," he said. "You have to slow down or the waves will hit the ship and make our passengers wet.

"We used to tie three ships side by side at the pier, but no longer. The current has become too strong: the ships would smack into each other and get damaged."

As far back as 13 years ago, the Star Ferry began to worry about the impact of reclamation - the shortened journeys, the removal of piers and the rough seas - which could threaten its continued survival. A senior executive joked that the ferries should take a "Z-shaped" route to give tourists more time for sightseeing.

Such worries arose from proposed reclamation plans released since the 1980s, when the city was searching for space to cope with urban growth and expansion.

One planning study proposed reclamation on an unprecedented scale, to produce 1,700 hectares of land. That is more than 40 times the size of the proposed cultural hub in West Kowloon.

It envisaged shrinking the distance between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central by about a third - to less than 850 metres - while the harbour's twisting shoreline would be straightened into a neat channel.

That almost happened. But a massive public campaign against reclamation, beginning in the mid-1990s and reaching its peak in early 2000, forced the government to revise and scale down its plans.

But huge reclamations were rammed through elsewhere: for the new airport, on northern Hong Kong Island and West Kowloon.

These projects marked the harbour indelibly - a long, fat 340-hectare strip was reclaimed in West Kowloon for the transport route to the new airport, and some of the Central harbour was reclaimed for the airport railway station.

The impact of reclamation was not felt until a few years later, when the visual and land-use changes became starkly obvious. Rows of high-rise residential buildings were erected in West Kowloon in the post-handover years, while commercial towers were built on both sides of the harbourfront.

"I get tense when I look at these high-rises surrounding us," Captain Chan said. "They are just too tall and close together. I would prefer shorter buildings, lower density and more green space in the city."

In a city where land seems the equivalent of oil in the Middle East, it is no surprise that developers maximise the developments on every site. The tall office and residential towers they build have significantly modified the harbour landscape. The 88-storey Two IFC office tower and shopping mall became the city's tallest when it was opened in 2003, overtaking the 78-storey Central Plaza, completed before the handover. On the other side of the harbour, the 118-storey International Commerce Centre is taking shape on reclaimed West Kowloon land: it will be the city's tallest, and the world's third-highest, structure when completed.

Together with Two IFC, it will form a gate at the western entrance of the harbour.

But is this the only way to make a truly world-class city? Does it require erecting the world's tallest buildings and stuffing them with luxury offices and shopping malls - especially when the community has awakened to the adverse, "wall" and "canyon" effects of massed high-rises?

Patsy Cheng Man-wah, a planning critic who was among the first to launch a campaign to save the Star Ferry clock tower, said: "The mainstream value of this society is that it's a waste not to maximise every single piece of land. And we are treating each site in isolation, without seeing the wider picture." Many people were pessimistic about ever achieving sustainable city planning in Hong Kong, she said.

"It is very likely we'll see more high-rises along the harbourfront, erected bit by bit, including hotels and office towers in Central. It's less likely that we will see parks or other green spaces," Ms Cheng said.

Despite such pessimism, the decade-long campaign to preserve the harbour has made people more concerned about how the harbour is envisioned, planned for and actually used.

One person with concerns is Ng Kwok-kuen, 59, a ferry engineer who has worked for Star Ferry for 40 years. He used to swim in the harbour's once-clear waters and caught big fish in it. Now that is impossible because of pollution and reclamation.

"Victoria Harbour is just like a fish tank," he said. "Its beauty is measured by what kind of fish you put into it." He fears the harbour will lose all its appeal for both local residents and tourists in future.

Many ideas have been floated since 1997 to make the harbour area more attractive. Some proposals are drastic, such as building a bridge or an undersea pedestrian walkway from shore to shore, and a man-made beach in the inner harbour.

But such suggestions have never gained public acceptance or even been taken seriously. And even some serious plans for the harbour, like the canopied West Kowloon arts hub project, have fared no better.

The arts complex had been planned for a 40-hectare site that was the only remaining large piece of reclaimed land in West Kowloon. Planners saw it as a new harbour landmark, the cornerstone of the city's reinvented identity as Asia's cultural capital. But the ambitious plan was shelved after political rows, and the site remains deserted.

Another prime plot of land is the old Kai Tak airport site. For nearly a decade it has been used as a dump for construction waste, a temporary car park, driving range and recycling centre.

A final development blueprint for the site has not been decided. The latest proposal, still subject to public scrutiny, would see a cruise-ship terminal in operation by 2012, a sports stadium, office towers and residential blocks built to avoid blocking each other's harbour view.

"We have already lost some battles for the harbourfront," said lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, convenor of Action Group on the Protection of the Harbour.

"Just look at West Kowloon: it's a jungle of concrete skyscrapers. The next battleground will be the remaining sites for reclamation on Hong Kong Island, in Central and Wan Chai, and vacant sites in North Point and Kennedy Town."

The most complicated harbourfront development is the ongoing Central-Wan Chai reclamation, which faced a legal challenge in 2003.

The challenge was based on the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, passed by the legislature four days before the handover. The law affirms the harbour as a public asset and natural heritage, and lays down a presumption against reclamation.

Subsequently, Hong Kong's highest court established the test of an over-riding public need for reclamation in the inner harbour. But these steps have not blocked reclamations completely or put an end to development-related controversies.

People are still questioning the need for a Central-Wan Chai bypass to relieve traffic, the removal of the Star Ferry and Queen's piers, and the construction of a massive new government headquarters at Tamar, a reclaimed area once used by British naval forces.

Harbour conservationists continue to challenge the zoning plans and land uses for these sites, and to suggest alternative plans that honour the principle that the harbour is not just for and of the people, but that its future should be decided by the people.

These activists dislike high-rise commercial developments and a reliance on cars in reclaimed areas. They would prefer to see greener, more open public spaces and emissions-free public transport.

Such alternative proposals have been put forward to challenge the official plans for the Central and Wan Chai areas. But not even a crystal ball could tell ordinary users of the harbour what it will look like in the future.

"It's not possible to turn the clock back," Captain Chan said. "But we can always look beyond the present. We might not like what we see now, but perhaps in 10 years, some new structures built on the harbourfront might become our 'collective memory' too."

Some might argue that the harbour has not changed much over the years or will not change much in the future. But the thinking of the people who own this harbour has certainly changed, and will continue to change.

And that will be the greatest challenge facing officials - delivering a world-class harbourfront that is vibrant, accessible and symbolic to its people.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:33 PM   #403
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Apr "updates" from the HK Gov.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 07:33 PM   #404
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Nice photos...
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Old July 10th, 2007, 11:17 PM   #405
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wow the pics must be taken from a helicopter or something like that... guess that you are posh then, aboveday.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 01:30 PM   #406
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wow the pics must be taken from a helicopter or something like that... guess that you are posh then, aboveday.
They're photos taken by government officials.
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Old July 14th, 2007, 07:35 PM   #407
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7/14



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Old July 17th, 2007, 06:43 AM   #408
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Queen's Pier activists offered talks
17 July 2007
South China Morning Post

The new development chief has offered an olive branch to activists who have been occupying Queen's Pier for three months, proposing a private meeting with them at City Hall this week.

But the activists say they are not interested in a private meeting with Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and want a public one at the pier, which they are battling to save from demolition.

Some also worry that the pier could be closed for demolition as soon as they leave it.

Pier activist Chu Hoi-dick said he had received an e-mail from Mrs Lam and telephone calls from officials last week saying the government wanted to open discussions through a private meeting.

If it goes ahead, Mrs Lam - who took over as secretary for development two weeks ago - would be the first official to meet the protesters since they began their occupation.

It would also come just days before the government is due to unveil its plan for demolishing the pier.

Mr Chu, a member of the protest group Local Action, said it would release a statement responding to the invitation soon, adding that there would be conditions.

"The meeting should be held on the premise that preserving the pier on site is still an option, and it should be held at the pier publicly," he said.

Mr Chu quoted the officials as saying they did not want the meeting turned into a City Forum where others could jump in and express their views at any time.

"What's wrong with the City Forum?" he said. "Officials express their views at the forum on Sundays."

The Legislative Council approved the funding for the demolition of the pier in May, although the Antiquities Advisory Board had listed it as a grade-one historical building.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said Mrs Lam's move was in line with instructions from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen that officials should get out and about and engage with the public.

But he warned that negotiations would not be easy.

"We are talking about social value, not material benefit," he said. "You cannot expect the activists to compromise quickly."

A spokeswoman for the Development Bureau said the meeting was aimed at gathering views from the action group on ways of preserving the pier, and other conservation projects. She said opening the meeting to the public was negotiable.

The government had already considered the group's proposal to preserve the pier on site, she said, adding that the reclamation project that required its demolition must go ahead.

The reclamation is to provide a new Central-Wan Chai bypass.
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Old July 28th, 2007, 08:50 PM   #410
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Pier activists launch hunger strike
Hong Kong Standard
Saturday, July 28, 2007

Three activists began a hunger strike on Friday with no set deadline to protest the demolition of Queen's Pier within the coming days.

Local Action core member Chan King-fai, 25, design artist Karden Chan, 24, and Wong Ho-yin, 23, announced their decision while sitting under the pier's sign.

On the "Protect the Queen" banner strung above their heads they had written "hunger strike" in red paint to show their determination.

Chan King-fai hopes that such peaceful and nonviolent action will draw the attention of the government and the Hong Kong people to the importance of historical preservation.

"The government wasn't chosen by us. All we can do is to use our humble and limited voices," Chan said.

"The pier is important to us and we will do our best to keep it." The trio said the hunger strike will continue until the government promises to keep the pier, adding that even if the pier is boarded up and they are dragged away by the police, the strike will continue.

Karden Chan and her fellow hunger strikers have been camping at the pier since April.

"This is the end of the road. The bulldozers are near," Chan King-fai said.

"If the project continues as planned, it shows the government does not love its people and does not value the city's past."

Pier conservationist and physician Lo Wing-lok voiced concern for the strikers' health given the soaring temperatures.

Lo, who intends to monitor them closely, called the situation "tragic" and hopes the government will heed the message.

Cheung Chor-yung, head of Sociology Studies at the City University of Hong Kong, said hunger strikes had proved effective for Mahatma Gandhi and the jailed members of the Irish Republican Army.

Cheung said the public may eventually feel the government is indifferent to its views, adding it may also reflect the lack of recognition of the authority since the government is unelected.

Patsy Cheng Man-wah of the heritage advocacy group See Network, lauded the protesters for going to great lengths to be heard.

"I respect them for risking their own safety in attempting to awaken the people's awareness.

"They may feel there is no other choice."

The Development Bureau believes communication is more effective. Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will appear on RTHK's City's Forum and at a public forum on Sunday at Queen's Pier.

"The change has already begun," said Chu Hoi-dick of Local Action, the forum's organizer.

Chu does not expect to be able to convince Lam at the forum but views it as an avenue to argue his case before the public.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen Friday said verbal violence, threats or radical measures directed at officials are unacceptable.

Tsang said: "Engaging in logical discussion with civil society is what all principal officials and I believe. Uncivilized behavior will only block dialogue between the government and the public."
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Old July 29th, 2007, 07:05 AM   #411
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A harbour concept is the first port of call
19 July 2007
South China Morning Post

The Planning Department's brochure for the Central harbourfront envisions a "world-class waterfront". What could distinguish a waterfront as "world-class"? Do we want the waterfront restaurants and bars of Lisbon's Docas or the promenade of Shanghai's Bund? An icon like the Sydney Opera House or the shopping centres of Tokyo's Odaiba? What about Seattle's serene Sculpture Park or San Francisco's tourist-packed Pier 39?

More generally, what do we really want to do at the Central harbourfront? Eat, play, exercise, live or work? And who are "we"? Locals, tourists, families or yuppies?

When all that has been decided - and only then - can we ask: what facilities will we require? Open-air restaurants, enclosed retail space, low-rise hotels, loft apartments, parks, promenades or museums?

What do we want? What kind of concept? Typically, this is where a developer would step in - creating a project aimed at specific users. But the fact that the Central harbourfront site is entirely new, very large, highly symbolic and broadly public precludes that option.

How, then, should our government proceed? The Planning Department is expert at what it does, but it isn't equipped for this unusual task.

If our harbourfront is to be engaging and vibrant - a commonly cited objective - someone must first develop a clear concept of the uses and users, then brief the designers on the buildings that the concept will require. Form should follow function.

The right concept can easily endure imperfect design (Lan Kwai Fong), and good design can make a strong concept stronger (Shanghai's Xintiandi), but an extravagant design alone cannot save a problematic concept (the West Kowloon Cultural District).

How can we find the right concept? The same way developers often innovate - by studying benchmark developments in other cities, selecting commercial and design concepts that fit, reinterpreting them for the market, and weaving them into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Who, then, can lead the search for our harbourfront concept?

The Washington-based Urban Land Institute studied the question in 2005. It recommended that the Hong Kong government take its harbour redevelopment work "to the next level" by establishing one of four entities: a development authority, a development agency, a specially appointed "tsar" or a commission.

If nothing else, wouldn't it make sense for our chief executive to appoint a commission to tackle the question: which concept? After all, Hong Kong has outstanding restaurateurs, creative developers and top hoteliers, for example. Shouldn't people with that sort of experience imagine the uses that can animate the Central harbourfront before the Planning Department's engineers start plotting the site's roads?

Such a commission could liaise with like entities in other cities, benchmark comparable projects around the world, identify what works and what doesn't, and produce a development solution - a concept - that the chief executive could strongly endorse.

We read routinely how Hong Kong will need to reinvent itself as China emerges. The harbour that drove our industrial success has tremendous potential to be recast as a symbol of our dynamic, modern and cosmopolitan city.

It would be a terrible shame if design work on its most important component, the Central harbourfront, proceeded before we first attempted to answer the question: what concept do we want?

Sitting in the midst of one of the world's most spectacular urban settings, the right waterfront concept, supported by good design, would most certainly rate as world-class. Better yet, it would offer us a great new way to experience and enjoy Hong Kong.

Dick Groves runs RDC, a consultancy specialising in retail development
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Old July 29th, 2007, 06:53 PM   #412
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Piecemeal approach not the way to revamp Central harbourfront
25 July 2007
South China Morning Post

The Subcommittee to Review the Planning for the Central Waterfront (including the Tamar Site), is a subcommittee of the panel on planning, lands and works, tasked to review the planning for the Central waterfront.

It has been receiving views from the public and interested parties on the Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront commissioned by the Planning Department in March. There is overwhelming support for the development of a world-class Central harbourfront with heritage buildings preserved. Views have been expressed on a wide spectrum of relevant issues including land use zoning and development parameters, the built form and layout of future buildings and transport infrastructure in the area.

While we are delighted with the enthusiastic public participation, we have been disappointed that the scope of the study has been confined to refining the existing urban design framework and the preparation of planning/design briefs for specific sites. We have also been advised by the administration that unless there are very strong reasons, the study should not result in any major change to the maximum gross floor areas and building heights specified in the relevant outline zoning plans. The Central harbourfront is a very important part of the city.

We consider that the vision of creating a world-class waterfront which is vibrant, attractive, accessible and symbolic of Hong Kong, cannot be realised under the current planning approach.

We think it is necessary to revamp the planning approach for the new Central harbourfront.

Instead of focusing on refining current planning and making piecemeal design briefs, the government should go for a master design for the entire Central harbourfront area.

The government should launch an international competition, inviting design proposals and then draw up a master plan based on the winning design.

There must be public engagement in planning major infrastructure projects.

Lau Wong-fat, chairman, Subcommittee to Review the Planning for the Central Waterfront (including the Tamar Site)
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Old July 30th, 2007, 11:12 PM   #413
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Maybe HKers should be more like the French. As I saw recently in the Sicko movie, one person said that the government is afraid of its people and that the people are willing to protest for what they want.
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Old July 31st, 2007, 04:20 AM   #414
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Maybe HKers should be more like the French. As I saw recently in the Sicko movie, one person said that the government is afraid of its people and that the people are willing to protest for what they want.
If majority thinks alike, and the government is going the other way, HKers do come out together and show the government what we want like the big demonstration in July 1 2003. But many times, the large crowd is not big enough to force the government think that's the "majority" and ignore the truth.
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Old July 31st, 2007, 04:54 AM   #415
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Have polls been conducted to show what the "truth" of the public's opinion is?

To me, I think the HK government handles development matters quite well, compared to their western (American) counterparts. The bureaucracy here is less bullshit, and more business. People need to understand that it's time to move on. What do the activists want? A useless pier in the middle of the city where land prices are one of the highest in the world?

Somethings are worth saving, and I concede that if the majority of HK do want to save the pier, I suppose it should be saved, but the government is relocating it, making the best compromise they can between progress and history.

Deal with it, that's life, things change.
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Old July 31st, 2007, 05:40 AM   #416
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No polls have been conducted to show the "truth" of the publics opinion; and the government has been saying the project has gone through all the consultation process since the 90s and no one has objected since then til now. If there is such a big controversy now, then I think there was a problem with the consultation process.

In America, development sometimes go very slowly is because people have the voice to say what they want and what they don't want through many many public hearings. A lot of the times, the public hearing actually turned the development down for different reasons. Developers may come back with another option and fit what the public wants; or they may trash their plan and sell the land. In Hong Kong, developments have been going quick and very efficient because there are no public hearing with no public input leads to no strong oppositions. As you said, things change, HKers are now a lot more care about our heritage and history; not just money. We have realized our root and want to save them. We know once the Queen's Pier is torn down, there is no way back. Indeed, existing Queen's Pier is at a prime location and land value; but don't forget the land isn't going for auction after reclamation. It's going to be for public use. The pier location is PROPOSED to be a roadway and some other infrastructure. All these future infrastructure can actually be relocated around and under the existing structure; it's not necessary to take the structure down. Many professionals have said it's possible and can do; but the government refuses to review the original design because of the cost.

Queen's Pier is more than just a pier, it's a important part of Hong Kong History. It's the place where the Royal Family landed at HK, but also a public place for many HKer. It's part of a building complex with Edinburgh Place and the City Hall. It's a location of history; a location to educate everyone the HK history. It doesn't have to be at the shoreline to show the history; but it has to be at the same location. All Tin Hau Temples in Hong Kong were at the shoreline one point in the history; and they have become inland as more land are reclaimed.

For a history structure, the history is not just the structure itself, location is also part of the history. Relocating doesn't equal to preservation; it's a wrong concept. It's a different structure, not the same one. Moreover, Queen's Pier is a precast concrete structure, there is no way you can disassemble the structure and put them back together. Relocation is rebuilding another "look alike" structure, not the original one. It's totally a lie the government can reassemble the structure at wherever they want.
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Old July 31st, 2007, 06:47 AM   #417
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I thought the plan was to cut up the structure, store it somewhere, and reassemble it like Murray House?
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Old July 31st, 2007, 04:31 PM   #418
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I thought the plan was to cut up the structure, store it somewhere, and reassemble it like Murray House?
Murray House is a brick structure which can be taken apart piece by piece and put back together like a puzzle.

On the other hand, Queen's Pier is a single piece of concrete structure with re-bars inside. Once you cut concrete apart and break the re-bars, you can't put them part together at one piece, and basically you need to remove chunk of concrete and rebuild the re-bar inside then pour concrete back in for just one column. It's more like rebuilding rather than what the government has been saying "reassembling."

Think of it as a piece of rock. Once you cut a rock apart, you can't put the parts back together to form the original piece of rock.
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Old July 31st, 2007, 05:04 PM   #419
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Originally Posted by EricIsHim View Post
No polls have been conducted to show the "truth" of the publics opinion; and the government has been saying the project has gone through all the consultation process since the 90s and no one has objected since then til now. If there is such a big controversy now, then I think there was a problem with the consultation process.

In America, development sometimes go very slowly is because people have the voice to say what they want and what they don't want through many many public hearings. A lot of the times, the public hearing actually turned the development down for different reasons. Developers may come back with another option and fit what the public wants; or they may trash their plan and sell the land. In Hong Kong, developments have been going quick and very efficient because there are no public hearing with no public input leads to no strong oppositions. As you said, things change, HKers are now a lot more care about our heritage and history; not just money. We have realized our root and want to save them. We know once the Queen's Pier is torn down, there is no way back. Indeed, existing Queen's Pier is at a prime location and land value; but don't forget the land isn't going for auction after reclamation. It's going to be for public use. The pier location is PROPOSED to be a roadway and some other infrastructure. All these future infrastructure can actually be relocated around and under the existing structure; it's not necessary to take the structure down. Many professionals have said it's possible and can do; but the government refuses to review the original design because of the cost.

Queen's Pier is more than just a pier, it's a important part of Hong Kong History. It's the place where the Royal Family landed at HK, but also a public place for many HKer. It's part of a building complex with Edinburgh Place and the City Hall. It's a location of history; a location to educate everyone the HK history. It doesn't have to be at the shoreline to show the history; but it has to be at the same location. All Tin Hau Temples in Hong Kong were at the shoreline one point in the history; and they have become inland as more land are reclaimed.

For a history structure, the history is not just the structure itself, location is also part of the history. Relocating doesn't equal to preservation; it's a wrong concept. It's a different structure, not the same one. Moreover, Queen's Pier is a precast concrete structure, there is no way you can disassemble the structure and put them back together. Relocation is rebuilding another "look alike" structure, not the original one. It's totally a lie the government can reassemble the structure at wherever they want.
Exactly - can't they kind of build around it?

Or does it come into the structure for the new highway?
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Old August 1st, 2007, 11:31 AM   #420
ccsraj
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Originally Posted by Rachmaninov View Post








Shot today!!

This harbour is almost 150 years old and development and life of hong kong people has been centered around this harbour.Now this place is under threat because already half of its places has been taken by government for building projects.Measures has to been taken to protect this harbour.
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