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Old February 1st, 2015, 07:53 PM   #1821
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Hong Kong needs more flats, but we must be sensible about how they are built
30 January 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt



If given a choice, everyone would prefer to live in a spacious and comfortable environment. But Hong Kong's limited land supply and high property prices make such living a luxury, if not wishful thinking. Many residents can only afford beehive dwellings in high-rise buildings in densely populated areas.

The adverse impact of such a living environment has been well researched. The latest study put the spotlight on a public housing development in Kwai Chung, where more than 0.6 hectares of trees in an open space will be cleared for the building of 800 units in two high-rise blocks.

It is estimated that summer sea breezes from the south would be blocked as a result, causing the daily mean temperature to rise by 1 degree Celsius, according to a Chinese University architecture professor, who was commissioned by the Planning Department to study wind flow and the environment.

He warned that the number of very hot days - 33 degrees or higher - would increase from 10 to more than 90 when a district's temperature rises by 3 degrees.

His warning that the government's target to build 480,000 units in 10 years may worsen the so-called heat island effect is not unjustified. As the urban area is already heavily built up, any attempt to construct more housing blocks may have a negative impact on the environment, in particular air flow during the hot season.

At stake is not just the quality of living for residents. Health studies have found that a temperature increase of 1 degree would drive up the death rate caused by heat-related illnesses by 1-2 per cent.
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Old February 7th, 2015, 02:48 PM   #1822
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New Hong Kong shopping centre could open near mainland China border by October
6 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt



A new shopping centre could open near the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint by October in an attempt to relieve New Territories towns overrun by mainland shoppers, a lawmaker confirmed yesterday.

Wong Ting-kwong, who represents the import and export sector, revealed that he had struck a deal with a group of villagers to turn a 420,000 sq ft site - about a fifth the size of Victoria Park - into an outdoor shopping centre.

Hundreds of shipping containers will be used to rapidly turn the site on the junction of Castle Peak Road and San Tin Tsuen Road - used now for parking, car repair workshops and warehouses - into a shopping mecca in time for the "golden week" holiday starting on National Day, October 1.

The move comes amid anger in towns such as Sheung Shui and Tuen Mun, where so-called parallel traders, who buy goods in Hong Kong for resale on the mainland, put intense pressure on public transport and are accused of crowding out stores selling daily necessities.

"[The centre] is not just for business," Wong said. "I hope it can help to [alleviate the pressure on] Northern district and towns in New Territories West, such as Tuen Mun."

Wong expects tenants to move out by the end of May so work can begin to install containers. Half will be rented to retailers of Hong Kong brands, a third will sell "hot products" popular with mainlanders, such as milk powder, diapers, clothes and sportswear, and the rest will be for food and beverages.

The centre will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and accommodate 3,000 visitors per hour - up to 30,000 in the course of a busy day.
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Old February 10th, 2015, 05:48 PM   #1823
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Third time lucky as SHKP wins rail site
The Standard Excerpt
Tuesday, February 10, 2015





MTR Corp's (0066) Tin Wing Station project was awarded to Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) on its third tender yesterday, following the failure of two previous attempts.

The developer, which outbid three others Henderson Land (0012), Sino Land (0083) and Far East Consortium (0035) is set to invest HK$7 billion in the Tin Shui Wai project.

With a site area of 196,250 square feet, the gross floor area for 1,500 apartments will reach nearly one million sq ft.

Managing director Victor Lui Ting said small to mid-sized flats will be built. "The project, in the center of the town, has convenient transport and scenery."

The retail portion is about 2,200 sq ft.

The project's price was not disclosed, but the market estimates the price per square foot could be as low as HK$1,500, compared with the asking price of HK$2,700 two years ago translating to a bid of between HK$1.47 billion and HK$1.96 billion, down from the initial HK$2 billion and HK$2.50 billion.

But the developer needs to pay an extra HK$250 million as a railway station relocation fee, while the MTRC will get a 10 percent profit ratio, and is entitled to buy back the project at a price 1.6 times higher than the market value.
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Old February 12th, 2015, 06:31 PM   #1824
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Record price boosts housing prospects
The Standard Excerpt
Thursday, February 12, 2015







Two sites were awarded at prices that beat expectations yesterday.

One plot fetched the highest price for Kowloon, underscoring developers' confidence in the local property market despite speculation that the government might impose additional curbs on the housing sector.

Kerry Properties (0683) won a residential plot in Beacon Hill for HK$2.39 billion, considerably above estimates, making the parcel the priciest in Kowloon.

A price offer of HK$20,534 per buildable square foot 57 percent higher than surveyors' expectations helped the developer outbid 19 contenders including Cheung Kong (0001), New World Development (0017), Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) and Henderson Land (0012).

It also smashed a record in the district set in 2010, when Chinachem Group took a site on Ede Road for HK$16,587 pbsf. Kerry Properties said the price was reasonable as supply of high-end housing remains limited, especially in prime locations downtown.
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Old February 13th, 2015, 05:05 AM   #1825
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Chan lashes `hypocritical' pressure groups
The Standard Excerpt
Friday, February 13, 2015



Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po lashed out at those who urged the government to step up housing supply while opposing attempts to rezone land as "hypocritical."

Amid pressure from both fronts, he said in the Legislative Council yesterday that the government does not have a magic wand to conjure up more sites for housing.

Difficult decisions have to be made, and the government must fight for "every inch of land" to live up to its promise of supplying 480,000 homes in the coming decade, transport and housing chief Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said, echoing Chan's concerns.

While the housing officials have been exploring various options to offer more subsidized homes, some developers have chosen to sell less.
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Old February 14th, 2015, 06:15 PM   #1826
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Green-belt home plans thrown out in blow to government target
14 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt



Planners have thrown out proposals to build flats on two green-belt sites in a blow to the government’s push for new flats to ease Hong Kong’s housing shortage.

The schemes in Tai Po, designed to provided 1,300 private homes, collapsed after the Town Planning Board for the first time rejected the government’s rezoning plans to meet its new homes target yesterday.

The two rejected plans were proposed for green-belt sites next to Fung Yuen village and the Nethersole Hospital, with a total area of about 5 hectares.

The Fung Yuen site had been included in the land sales programme, a list of sites for sale to private developers. The board’s rejection might trigger its removal from the programme.

The board’s move came after the government released details of some 150 sites selected for rezoning. The rezoning is designed to allow 40 per cent of the 480,000 new homes planned by 2019 under an ambitious target.

A government official accepted the board’s decision.

“It’s within our expectation that some rezoning plans could fail. The board’s decision gives a clearer indication that it doesn’t approve giving up valuable trees and ecologically sensitive sites for building homes. The government will be more careful in the upcoming land search.”

A board spokeswoman said the two sites were rejected as they should remain as a buffer zone around urban areas.

The board’s private deliberation yesterday focused on six major housing sites, intended to provide 6,350 public units and 2,875 private units. Fung Yuen is close to an area of special scientific interest and includes woodland of about 3,000 mature trees.
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Old February 15th, 2015, 09:54 AM   #1827
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Civil aviation head says sorry over HQ woes
10 December 2014
South China Morning Post Excerpt



Auditor found that extra space and systems were built without government approval
Aviation `kingdom' slammed
The Standard Excerpt
Thursday, February 12, 2015

In the strongest words of censure possible, the Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee yesterday deplored the actions of Civil Aviation Department director-general Norman Lo Shung-man for ignoring civil servant regulations and acting like an independent kingdom in the construction of CAD's new headquarters.

It was the second strong censure by the committee in two years, the first being in its report about former Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming in November 2013.

Committee member Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong said the use of the word "deplore" was unanimously agreed on by all seven members, and that it was the strongest they could use at the moment.

The accountancy sector lawmaker said it was one of the most serious cases he had come across since he was elected.

Committee chairman Abraham Shek Lai-him said it was a rare case and it was "very, very serious."

The committee yesterday submitted its 475-page report to Legco.

"The committee considers it inexcusable and condemns the CAD and the Architectural Services Department, that in the implementation of the new CAD headquarters, CAD had deliberately overridden the administration's internal mechanism to regulate the use of public money," Shek said. "The committee also deplores the director-general of civil aviation who had wilfully neglected his responsibilities and duties to provide complete, accurate and not misleading information.

"They breached the government regulations and acted as though they were running an independent kingdom."

The report also condemned the ASD for not performing its monitoring role properly in ensuring the CAD's compliance with the relevant regulations, which undermines the internal checks and balances mechanism in the government.
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Old February 16th, 2015, 06:13 AM   #1828
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Hong Kong councillors blast proposal to rezone seven Eastern district sites
13 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt

A set of community facilities on eastern Hong Kong Island that includes a small football pitch, a school sports ground and a plant nursery will be demolished to make way for 3,000 new flats in the coming five years, under a housing plan that drew strong resistance from district councillors on Thursday.

The proposal to turn seven sites in Eastern District into residential land formed part of the government's wider plan to rezone 150 sites across the city for the construction of 210,000 homes - 44 per cent of the target to build 480,000 public and private flats in the next decade.

Five of those seven sites involve government, institution and community land, one is green-belt land and the other is open space currently used by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department as a plant nursery.

Without giving details such as the size and expected population intake of each site, the Development Bureau yesterday presented the proposal to the Eastern District Council's planning, works and housing committee for discussion.

Councillors were unimpressed by the government's idea to build public flats on the site of a mini football pitch at the junction of Java Road and Tin Chiu Street, in North Point.

"This is the only mini football pitch between Fortress Hill and Quarry Bay," councillor Cheng Chi-sing said. "We have already sacrificed a standard football pitch for the construction of the ICAC headquarters [completed in 2007]. Now you even want to snatch a five-a-side field. Where can our young people play?"

Hong Kong Island district planning officer Ginger Kiang Kam-yin said her department would find another site to relocate the field. "There is no question of eliminating this facility," she said.

A sports ground on Hau Yuen Path, currently shared by three schools on Braemar Hill via short-term lease, will be demolished for a private housing development if the plan is passed.

Eastern District councillor Peter Shiu Ka-fai said Braemar Hill already had serious traffic problems and he saw no room to build additional flats there.
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Old February 17th, 2015, 06:54 PM   #1829
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SHKP gets nod for revised North Point project
The Standard Excerpt
Tuesday, February 17, 2015



Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) will be allowed to build nine residential-cum-commercial buildings with a maximum of 18 floors on the former North Point Estate site.

The approval came after the developer altered its high-density plan amid opposition due to environmental concerns.

Under the Buildings Department plan approved in December and announced yesterday, SHKP can build four blocks of 14 to 16 floors above a basement and a three-level platform, and five others of 13 to 18 floors atop a basement and a two-level platform. Of the overall 900,000 square feet, 578,000 sq ft will be for residential use.

In 2013, SHKP wanted to build 10 structures consisting of 710 flats, each having eight to 18 floors. But it was opposed by environmental activists and nearby residents.

Following advice from the Town Planning Board, SHKP submitted two revised proposals in September that year, with buildings taller and wider 20 to 24 meters apart. The total number of units was reduced to 702.

SHKP clinched the harborfront plot for HK$6.91 billion in 2012, and was required to build at least 700 residential units on it.

The developer expected to invest HK$15 billion in the project, while the market tipped prices of completed flats would average HK$18,000 per sellable square foot.
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Old February 18th, 2015, 03:34 AM   #1830
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URA concerns over subsidy scheme
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The Standard Excerpt

Some members of the Urban Renewal Authority yesterday said any subsidized housing scheme undertaken by the authority should be a one-off project as implementing such programs on a permanent basis could undermine its fiscal health.

They also called for the government to give the URA "a better-defined mandate."

The calls come after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed hope in his 2015 policy address last month that URA could provide subsidized flats to help boost local home supply.

The authority, which typically renews dilapidated urban buildings for sale in the private residential market, gave its support immediately, suggesting it could convert 300 units at its "flat-for- flat" scheme De Novo at Kai Tak into subsidized units. But the URA did not disclose further details of how the model would work.

There have been concerns also that developing subsidized projects would strain the finances of the authority, which posted a loss of HK$2.3 billion in the 2013/14 fiscal year.
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Old February 19th, 2015, 04:17 PM   #1831
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Old February 19th, 2015, 07:46 PM   #1832
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Old February 20th, 2015, 09:38 PM   #1833
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Numbers add up to a good new year, Lee says
17 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt



Price of small flats and stock market will continue to rise, tycoon predicts

Hong Kong’s economy is in good shape, property tycoon Lee Shau-kee said, as he predicted that the Hang Seng Index could possibly hit the 27,000 mark in the year to come.

The Henderson Land Development patriarch also expects prices of smaller flats to continue to rise in the near future, but said they would become more stable with a boom in supply in about one or two years.

“Recently the prices of smaller flats have risen sharply because of a big demand. They are popular with buyers because they are cheaper,” Lee said.

“But many developers are switching to building smaller flats to meet the market demand. In the future, prices will become more stable.”

On stock market performance, Lee said: “This year, I think the Hang Seng Index could possibly hit the 26,000 or 27,000 mark ... Investors will put money into the stock market after they make more money [from a booming economy], thus the stock market will continue going up.”

The index closed at 24,726.53 today, up 43.99 points.

Lee did not expect the possible increase in interest rates in the United States to have a big adverse impact on the local stock market and added: “I hope the disputes over the political reforms can end soon. I hope to see a harmonious Hong Kong.”

Lee was speaking after officiating at a ceremony yesterday to mark the start of an elderly hostel project on a site he donated to Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long. The hostel is to be built on a 9,900-square-metre site in Tuen Mun, opposite The Sherwood, a Henderson Land housing estate.

Upon completion in 2018, the hostel will offer 1,405 places for senior citizens who require nursing care services. The planned nine-storey building, with a gross floor area of about 35,000 square metres, will be one of the largest elderly hostels in Asia.

Pok Oi Hospital board of directors chairman Ho Wing-tim estimated the construction cost would be more than HK$1 billion and it would be funded by the government lottery fund.
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Old February 22nd, 2015, 05:48 AM   #1834
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Green-belt home plans thrown out in blow to government target
14 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt



Planners have thrown out proposals to build flats on two green-belt sites in a blow to the government’s push for new flats to ease Hong Kong’s housing shortage.

The schemes in Tai Po, designed to provided 1,300 private homes, collapsed after the Town Planning Board for the first time rejected the government’s rezoning plans to meet its new homes target yesterday.

The two rejected plans were proposed for green-belt sites next to Fung Yuen village and the Nethersole Hospital, with a total area of about 5 hectares.

The Fung Yuen site had been included in the land sales programme, a list of sites for sale to private developers. The board’s rejection might trigger its removal from the programme.

The board’s move came after the government released details of some 150 sites selected for rezoning. The rezoning is designed to allow 40 per cent of the 480,000 new homes planned by 2019 under an ambitious target.

A government official accepted the board’s decision.

“It’s within our expectation that some rezoning plans could fail. The board’s decision gives a clearer indication that it doesn’t approve giving up valuable trees and ecologically sensitive sites for building homes. The government will be more careful in the upcoming land search.”

A board spokeswoman said the two sites were rejected as they should remain as a buffer zone around urban areas.

The board’s private deliberation yesterday focused on six major housing sites, intended to provide 6,350 public units and 2,875 private units. Fung Yuen is close to an area of special scientific interest and includes woodland of about 3,000 mature trees.
Fight to save green-belt sites looks set for court
22 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Protesters looking at judicial reviews after planning board turns land over to housing

The Town Planning Board could face legal challenges from a Tai Po residents group and an environment group over its decision to allow two green-belt sites to be turned over to housing.

Last Friday, the board endorsed government requests to rezone seven green-belt sites to help meet its housing targets, but protests from opposition groups saw it reject applications to rezone two other plots, saying they should “remain as a buffer zone around urban areas”.

One of the sites the board ruled would be rezoned was a 4.13 hectare plot at Lo Fai Road, Tai Po, where 660 private flats are now set to be built. Lo Fai Road residents had repeatedly protested against the plan, with about 50 of them voicing their opposition at the board’s public hearings.

“We are happy to see that the board has taken the environment into consideration and decided to preserve the two green-belt sites, although we feel disappointed by the decision on the site we have campaigned for,” said a representative of the Lo Fai Road Concern Group.

She said residents were now considering seeking a judicial review against the board’s ruling.

Allan Hay, another member of the concern group and a former assistant director of lands, who spoke out at one of the board’s hearings, said: “Eighteen or 19 [out of 28] non-official members were not there. How can a decision be made when these people are not there?”

The lack of a fair hearing has been accepted as a reason to void board decisions in two recent judicial reviews.
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Old February 22nd, 2015, 08:01 AM   #1835
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Old February 23rd, 2015, 06:04 PM   #1836
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Big Three land 80 pc of MTR Sites
23 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt

City’s largest developers have occupied majority of residential sites put up for tender by railway company, study into real estate oligopoly shows

Three major developers have occupied over 80 per cent of the MTR Corporation’s residential property project market share, a study on the oligopoly in Hong Kong’s real estate sector has found.

The finding by the housing policy think tank Land Watch comes amid heightened expectations from the government and the public on the railway company as a residential land supplier in recent years, as the administration has vowed to ease the city’s housing shortage.

A year ago, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po criticised the MTR – of which the government is the major shareholder – for not doing enough to help boost housing supply.

While Land Watch criticised the MTR’s practice of selling large sites as a barrier to smaller developers joining the fray, the firm insisted it would split projects into several smaller ones when it could, but said that was not always feasible.

The research looked into 22 MTR sites released for tender between 2001 and last year. Together they provide land for 43,334 flats for sale in the private sector, with a total gross floor area of 36 million square feet.

Only six developers and consortiums led by them had ever won in the bids over these 14 years. Nearly half of the total gross floor area – 44 per cent – was won by Cheung Kong (Holdings), the largest developer in Hong Kong, followed by Sun Hung Kai Properties with 20 per cent of the pie, and New World Development at 19 per cent, bringing the “big three” total to 83 per cent.

Sino Land, Chinachem and Wheelock each got 10, 4 and 3 per cent of the floor areas, respectively.

The analysis also found that sites with gross floor areas or more than 2 million square feet drew only three to five bidders in their first tender attempts. Among these six sites, three even went through multiple tenders because initial attempts failed to find an eligible developer.

In contrast, smaller sites with gross floor areas of 800,000 to 1.1 million square feet always triggered competition from six to eight bidders and did not have any failed tender.

“Each of these large sites can be valued at over HK$10 billion. A small-to-medium developer in Hong Kong may have total capital of just HK$20 billion to HK$40 billion and it is impossible for them to invest such a large sum in a single project,” Land Watch chairman Lee Wing-tat said.
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Old February 24th, 2015, 07:03 PM   #1837
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Old February 25th, 2015, 03:23 PM   #1838
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Two new sites for sale
25 February 2015
The Standard Excerpt

A residential site in Ma On Shan and a commercial site in Kowloon Bay are up for sale, but are unlikely to break the recent new records.

Both districts saw their most expensive plots sold recently " Link REIT (0823) and Nan Fung Group won a Kowloon Bay site last month for HK$6,630 per buildable square foot, while a Wu Kai Sha plot was taken by mainland developer China City Construction and Chun Wo Development (0711) at HK$5,517 per sq ft in December.

Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, director at Cushman & Wakefield, expects the Kowloon Bay and Wu Kai Sha sites to fetch HK$6,500 and HK$5,180 per sq ft, or HK$3.19 billion and HK$1.17 billion in total, slightly lower than the record prices.

The residential site is located near the MTR station between Double Cove Starview Prime and Villa Concerto, with the plot measuring 62,754 sq ft and yielding a gross floor area of more than 226,000 sq ft.

``The new plot is larger in size, higher in density, and a bit further from the sea than the previous one.'' said Cheung.

Still the estimated price will be the second highest in the Ma On Shan region. Double Cove Starview Prime, developed by Henderson Land (0012) and still under construction, is selling for around HK$12,000 pssf.

The Kowloon Bay site is only a few blocks away from the site Link REIT acquired last month, and across the street from shopping mall MegaBox and office tower One Kowloon.

It has a site area of 40,849 sq ft and about 490,000 sq ft of gross floor area, about half the size of the Link's plot.
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Old February 27th, 2015, 01:25 PM   #1839
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Beautification of Cross Harbour Tunnel Entrance

紅隧口建綠化平台 理大獻計驅廢氣


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2月27日 (五)



紅磡海底隧道平均每日行車量達十二萬架次,造成噪音、通風及空氣污染等問題,危害區內居民及三萬名理大師生健康。理工大學向規劃署提交建議,提出由政府斥資五十億元於紅隧九龍出口收費廣場興建逾四萬三千平方米的綠化平台,東面接合紅磡港鐵站,西面連接理大校園,內裏設置空氣淨化設施抽走由汽車排出的廢氣,估計三至四成污染物可被淨化。若建議獲政府接納,最快可在二○一八年展開工程。

理大昨舉行傳媒春茗,公布已成立跨學科專家團隊展開研究,提出這項「社會創新項目:綠化平台計劃」。綠化平台工作小組主席雷震寰表示,該幅土地屬於政府,校方提出發展建議希望獲接納,擬建的綠化平台分為三層,底層讓汽車通過,中間一層為行人通道,設有空氣淨化設施,頂層為綠化花園,亦可設藝術廊、露天劇院、觀景台等社區設施,並可規劃連接何文田、尖沙咀和海旁等地的行人通道和單車徑。

校方建議利用回收玻璃作興建材料,平台以光伏特電池及太陽能板發電,善用自然通風,改善空氣質素。雷震寰指沙中線預計在二○一八至一九年落成,屆時紅隧的行車量將會下降,政府可在此契機展開工程,校方將與政府繼續商討細節。
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Old March 3rd, 2015, 07:10 PM   #1840
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Hong Kong's creative use of space under flyovers draws eyes of world
27 February 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt



The official opening of the Wan Chai Sports Federation headquarters got off to an auspicious start last month with a display of Chinese drumming by a youth group, before speeches by government and sports officials.

The opening celebrations were worthy of a grand building. The facility, however, is a humble structure under a flyover on Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay.

From outside, the building looks small. But inside, there's 7,000 sq ft of space. It's bright and airy, with a high-ceilinged basement equipped for table tennis and badminton, a mirrored room for exercise, and offices, lockers and shower facilities.

"Architectural success is not about size," says architectural designer Barrie Ho, who headed the project. "It's about how people bond together in a community.

"There are many small groups like the Wan Chai Sports Federation that need office space, but they don't need class-A space in Central. These groups enrich the community, and just need a space to do their work."

The founder of Barrie Ho Architecture Interiors says such buildings are a Hong Kong phenomenon, born from the shortage of space in the city. They are a good exercise in how to use leftover space.

"Architects don't usually think of spaces under flyovers, and neither do people in general. They have the impression that these buildings are not hygienic; it's where homeless people congregate, and so it's not a place where they want to go," he says.
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