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Old November 2nd, 2007, 06:59 PM   #61
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Harbourfront tower 'may block air flow'
2 November 2007
South China Morning Post

A proposed 33-storey hotel tower near the Causeway Bay harbourfront is too high and may hinder air flow into the North Point area, the Planning Department said yesterday.

The Civil Engineering Development Department also objected to Wharf Estates Development's plan because the site had previously been suggested for the relocation of the floating Tin Hau Temple, a historical icon of the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter.

Wharf Estates Development, the Hong Kong Arts Centre and Hong Kong Festival Fringe want to turn the 3,204-square-metre site, comprising A King Marine and adjoining government land, into a 129-metre-high hotel, gallery and studio theatre.

They said the plan satisfied the sustainability principles set out by the Harbourfront Enhancement Review to accommodate indoor leisure and entertainment activities.

"The proposal includes arts and cultural facilities for training classes, and small-scale performance and exhibitions, which are essential for long-term development of arts and culture of Hong Kong," they said in a paper submitted to the Town Planning Board yesterday.

The Planning Department argued the tower would be "visually dominating" and was against the urban design concept of descending building heights towards the harbour.

The site was said to be an important wind entrance to the inland area and the development might block this, it said.

But the Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said he supported development of arts facilities by the private sector.

The Planning Department suggested the board defer the application pending a request to the Chief Executive in Council to sort out the zoning matter of the site.

The application is to be discussed in a Town Planning Board meeting today.
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Old November 16th, 2007, 06:31 PM   #62
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Planners had no grounds forlimiting tower height, judge rules
16 November 2007
South China Morning Post





A judge has cleared the way for a controversial Mid-Levels development - nicknamed "the toothpick" by opponents - to proceed, ruling the Town Planning Appeal Board had wrongly taken traffic and visual considerations into account in blocking it.

Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung yesterday ordered the board to reverse its decision blocking the relaxation of height and plot ratio restrictions on a block of land abutting Castle Steps to make way for the development by a subsidiary of Swire Properties.

The government said it would study the judgment in detail before deciding whether to appeal.

The order, which could affect other sites zoned similarly, came after International Trader Limited (ITL) sought a judicial review of the board's decision. The company wants to build a 54-storey building on a parcel of land comprising the disputed block and several others on Seymour Road.

The board, by a majority of three to two, had continued to refuse ITL's application to remove the 12-storey limit on the site because of traffic and visual considerations.

Mr Justice Cheung found that under the original Mid-Levels West outline zoning plan, the block, which has no direct street frontage, had been zoned for unrestricted residential development but had subsequently had restrictions placed upon it because of concerns about access for fire services and refuse collection.

Looking through documents associated with the rezoning, which took place in 1995, Mr Justice Cheung found there was little to indicate that traffic issues were behind the decision to limit development on the site. Rather, it was the lack of street access that motivated the change.

That was borne out by a proper reading of the outline zoning plan and its supporting documents, he said.

The judge accepted ITL's argument that, if traffic considerations were not in play, the concerns about access no longer mattered once the site was included in a development that had direct street frontage.

"Traffic and visual considerations are not relevant planning considerations" in relation to applications for the relaxation of restrictions on such sites, the judge said.

A spokeswoman for Swire Properties said: "Now that the matter is resolved we will go ahead and build [the tower]."

Central and Western District Council member Chan Chit-kwai said the implications of the court's decision were huge. "The new development is going to create a wall effect and residents of the Mid-Levels will have to double their time for travelling to the city centre," he said.

Town Planning Board members said the case was a typical example of developers' use of judicial procedures to get round the board's decisions.
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Old November 16th, 2007, 06:34 PM   #63
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Developers accused of abusing law
Planners fear judicial reviews will mean more unsightly projects

16 November 2007
South China Morning Post

Members of the Town Planning Board fear developers will increasingly abuse the legal system by seeking judicial reviews to push through their projects.

They raised their concerns yesterday after the High Court gave the green light to a high-rise development in Mid-Levels.

The court also overturned a board decision earlier this month by asking the board to reconsider its decision and allow development on three conservation areas in Clear Water Bay. The ruling was given by the same judge, Andrew Cheung Kui-nung.

The residential development in Seymour Road and Castle Steps, proposed by Swire Properties, was repeatedly blocked by the Town Planning Board, Town Planning Appeal Board and Building Appeal Tribunal from 2003 to 2006. The reasons were based mainly on the visual and traffic impact generated by the development.

Before appealing to the High Court, the developer had obtained approval from the Buildings Department to build a 57-storey building and a 12-storey building on two of four sites involved in the development. The court's decision yesterday, relaxing a height limit, means a much wider 54-storey high rise can be built across the two sites.

Gregory Wong Chak-yan, a member of the Town Planning Board, said the court and the board had opposing views on the development because the judge's decision was based mainly on legal documents such as the outline zoning plan, while the board looked at social changes taking place in Mid-Levels.

"The term 'wall effect' only came up in Hong Kong a few years ago and traffic was not that congested in Mid-Levels," Dr Wong said, "Planning concerns and restrictions stated in the outline zoning plan have not caught up with reality."

Another board member, Ng Cho-nam, said the outline zoning plans should be reviewed as early as possible to prevent developers from escaping the board's decisions and resorting to judicial reviews.

"It has become a trend now," Dr Ng said, adding that the board had an obligation to maintain people's quality of life by considering the cumulative impact of developments.

Central and Western District Council member Chan Chit-kwai said traffic in the area was so bad that it took 20 minutes to commute from Seymour Road to Hollywood Road in peak hours. He said the huge development would be an eyesore.

Green Sense said it was disappointed by the judgment and claimed the development would block winds blowing over the north of Hong Kong Island.

A Mr Man, who has lived in Merry Court, along Castle Road, for 30 years, said the opening of the Sun Yat-sen Museum had already greatly increased traffic. He was worried that air quality would get worse.

Leung Kai-chiu, who owns a hair salon in the area, was worried that the serious traffic jams could damage his business.

More than half of Hong Kong's 108 outline zoning plans at present do not have planning parameters specifying heights, plot ratios and maximum gross floor areas. The Development Bureau said priority would be given to sites along the harbour in its reviews.
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Old November 16th, 2007, 06:35 PM   #64
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Swire wins fight over height limit at luxury project
Hong Kong Standard
Friday, November 16, 2007

Swire Properties - one of Hong Kong's largest property developers - has won a legal battle with the Town Planning Board over height restrictions imposed on a luxury residential project in the Mid-Levels.

The site is one of several located between Seymour Road and Castle Steps where the developer plans to build a high rise complex comprising blocks of 50 stories or more.

International Trader - a Swire subsidiary - launched a judicial review after the board twice refused its application to relax the site's plot ratio and height curbs from 12 to 50 stories.

The proposed complex - at the junction of Seymour Road, Castle Road and Castle Steps - would cover an area of 2,132 square meters.

But the board rejected the application, saying it would cause severe traffic congestion and visual problems in the area.

The company appealed against the decision last December, but this was also turned down by the board.

In his ruling yesterday, Court of First Instance Judge Andrew Cheung Kui- nang said Swire's argument about traffic and visual considerations was not relevant in the planning process.

He said it would be unfair to isolate a relatively small site since it is surrounded by commercial and residential buildings as tall as 40 stories and with no height restrictions.

The judge also pointed out the plot was originally zoned as residential zoning group A in 1986, although it was later rezoned as residential zoning group C in 1995, with limitations imposed.

The court was also told that at a meeting in 1996, the Planning Department had allowed the site to be redeveloped without vehicular access.

Cheung said the plot was special with its geographical features since there are many steps, making it impossible for any vehicle to gain direct access.

The judge also said the visual problem was not an important point in the dispute, and there had been no detailed discussions of the issue in court.

The TPB was also ordered to pay court costs.

Greg Wong Chak-yan, former chairman of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, said traffic in the area would definitely worsen if more cars were allowed to enter it.

However, he said he was not sure if air quality would be affected.

"Unfortunately, there's no air assessment for private property."

Ho Ka-po, project manager of environmental group Green Sense, expressed disappointment over the ruling, and urged the government to take the case to the Court of Final Appeal.

She warned that air quality in Sheung Wan and Central was likely to deteriorate as winds would be blocked from the south to the northern coast, and traffic congestion would worsen.

A government spokesman said the authorities will study the judgment thoroughly.

A spokesman for Swire Properties said the company will complete the project.

Tycoon Gordon Wu Ying-sheung of Hopewell Holdings also has had his proposed Mega Tower hotel complex in Wan Chai blocked by the planning board - for nearly two decades.

The board has repeatedly rejected Hopewell's project, saying it is too large and would damage the neighborhood's environment.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 01:22 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samsonyuen View Post
The walls are one of the things that make HK unique!
And also on of the things that make HK uglier.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 03:49 AM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duopolis View Post
And also on of the things that make HK uglier.
Its 50/50. Some like it and some don't. I say that some areas especially Kai-Tak I wouldn't like the walls.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 05:23 AM   #67
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Midlevels itself is already quite crowded, so although this is a relatively small development, the overall effect would have impacted existing residents quite severely.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 08:16 AM   #68
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Ruling on tower puts spanner in the works
16 November 2007
South China Morning Post

A High Court victory yesterday by a subsidiary of Swire Properties concerned only a single site in Mid-Levels. However, it has troubling implications for residents in the district already plagued by overdevelopment, heavy traffic and the canyon effect of walled-in pollution and trapped heat. It also raises questions about how well the Town Planning Board can represent the wider public interest should developers choose to challenge it in court.

Private property rights must be respected. But the planning process must also work in a way which serves the wider public interest. In the judicial review launched by Swire's International Trader Ltd, Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung of the Court of First Instance ruled that the court must adhere to the original intentions of zoning and rezoning plans. This is a fundamental legal principle. The problem, however, is that many such plans date back years, as is the case with the Mid-Levels site. As a result, they may not reflect contemporary concerns about the wall effect, visual impact and quality of life.

These concerns must be taken into account when future rezoning applications are made. The Planning Department has the power, under the law, to impose height restrictions where necessary. An upcoming government review of outline zoning plans must also have such concerns very much in mind.

There may even be circumstances where the public interest is served by a developer not exercising its rights to fully develop a certain site. In such circumstances, a development transfer arrangement might be considered in order to ensure that legal rights are respected.

There is no question that Mid-Levels has become overbuilt and its roads saturated. These problems are likely to worsen as developers zero in on the district to build more luxury residences. This is especially so at the junction of Castle Road and Seymour Road, where Swire has applied to build a luxury, 50-plus-storey complex on two adjacent sites. The 2,100-plus-square-metre site is only one of more than half a dozen sites on the two narrow roads that have either been bought by developers or where negotiations for collective sale to them are under way.

The smaller of the two Swire sites has height restrictions and a limited plot ratio, which the company sought to lift. The board and its appeal system blocked this, citing the adverse traffic and visual impact that would result. Counsel for the board argued in the judicial review that planners must have had traffic and other "infrastructural concerns" in mind when they drafted the zoning and rezoning plans.

However, Mr Justice Cheung ruled these concerns were not reflected in the plans themselves. He also referred to the 1972 moratorium that sought to tackle traffic problems in Mid-Levels by capping population growth, saying it did not apply in this case.

Despite this victory, developers are still afraid that height restrictions might be imposed in the area. However, as the roads there have already reached capacity, it is not clear how they can handle more skyscrapers and a large influx of new residents.

Yesterday's court decision will, unless reversed, allow the development to proceed. We are likely to see more such appeals by developers emboldened to challenge the board's decisions.

Developers are entitled to exercise their rights. They should know, however, that it is not in their interests to make an area so crowded that people no longer find it attractive to live in.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 04:53 AM   #69
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Residents up in arms over ruling at Mid-Levels
Hong Kong Standard
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Residents and concerned groups yesterday urged the Town Planning Board to appeal against a court ruling which cleared the way for a developer to erect a 54-story building in western Mid- Levels.
More than 20 residents who live near the site at the junction of Seymour Road, Castle Road and Castle Steps, handed a petition containing 763 signatures urging swift action.

Aside from the building's possible wall-effect and the traffic congestion it would cause, the residents said the ruling would rob the board of its position as the gatekeeper of the city's future development.

Swire Properties last week won a judicial challenge against the Town Planning Board which twice turned down its application to change the site's current plot ratio and height limit from 12 to 50 stories.

Trader Yung Yeung-sing, who lives in Robinson Place next to the site, said the ruling would open a pandora's box and allow developers to build high rise buildings all over Hong Kong.

He said in addition to losing face, the board's power to restrict or reject applications had been severely curtailed.

Resident Elina Li May-nar said she was surprised the board's decision was overturned.

"The board had become a toothless tiger, even though it is a professional body set up to plan how land is used in Hong Kong," she said.

"This case suggests the board has become redundant since it cannot protect the land."

Green Sense project manager Gabrielle Ho Ka-po said the proposed complex, with more than 90 parking spaces, would only aggravate traffic congestion and further delay residents who now spend more than half an hour to get to Central.

Besides concerns of air ventilation, there is also the danger that emergency vehicles may have difficulty reaching buildings in the area, he said.

The residents said they will support the board should it appeal the decision otherwise they will directly approach the chief executive.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 10:16 AM   #70
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Vision City is actually a very nasty skyscraper wall across from Nina Tower. Here is a bit on how this project can still have green characteristics :

Sino finds straight up is way to go
The developer has come up with a way to grow and sustain a wall in its Vision City development in Tsuen Wan
16 November 2007
South China Morning Post

Lateral thinking helps solve many problems, but when the management team at Sino Group was puzzling over ways to create a more environmentally friendly ambience at Vision City in Tsuen Wan, they realised vertical thinking was the answer.

That led them to design, develop and install Hong Kong's first "living wall". It is a massive expanse of natural greenery stretching 90 metres around one side of the main outdoor atrium at second- and third-floor levels. It provides a striking visual feature covering 700 square metres and is a template for a new concept in urban architecture.

"The thought we had at the inception stage was that the courtyard could resemble a big park," said Raymond Chen, assistant general manager for projects at Sino Group. "The idea of the vertical greening system [VGS] came from that."

Subsequent research showed there was scope to create something that was not just aesthetically pleasing. The right design and choice of materials would also make it possible to reduce ambient temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius, provide noise insulation and create a natural air filter by using plants known to absorb pollutants.

Mr Chen said that the VGS had three main components: a rigid framework of galvanised steel attached to the exterior fašade of the building; green panels, each measuring 30 by 120cm; and a grid of upward-angled "pots" to contain the growth medium and the plants.

The prefabricated panels were easily fixed to the framework, which made installation relatively straightforward.

They were also attached to the system's third main component - an automatic irrigation system that uses recycled water. This is controlled by a timer device and has humidity and rain sensors, regulating valves and distributors to ensure that the plants in each panel receive the right amount of water, depending on their known requirements and the prevailing weather conditions.

There are 1,090 green panels in use and about 10 per cent of these are "demountable" so it is possible to access and replace them from the floors of the car park, which they disguise. The remainder have to be maintained or changed using an extendable crane.

"We did a site mock-up for three months to test the plants and the panels," Mr Chen said. The results provided valuable information about everything from plant behaviour at varying levels of irrigation to how well water seeped through a soil sample.

He said to provide natural ventilation a system of vertical louvres covered about 30 per cent of the total VGS surface area. These were made from a wood composite material that was reusable and biodegradable.

The contrasting material and colours have been incorporated in the overall design, creating an effect that from a distance resembles the barcode label on products in the adjacent City Walk shopping mall.

Thomas Lau, Sino Group's assistant general manager for landscape architecture, said about HK$5 million had been invested in developing and installing the VGS. He emphasised that the key factors were to have a site with adequate natural light and good cross ventilation. It was also vital to choose plants which required minimum maintenance, so that the system could be self-sustaining.

He suggested that in aesthetic and functional terms the project would be seen as a milestone for "green" architecture in Hong Kong.

"It has been a very exciting project for our team," Mr Lau said. "We are doing something for the public and the environment."

He said the company already had plans to adapt the basic concept for use at other developments, provided the building structures in each case could take the dead load of the installation.

Further tests would be conducted into ways of using less soil or even none.

"We will analyse how much weight we can reduce and how high up we can go [and see] if the building can take the load," he said.

The company has applied for a patent covering the whole system, but not with a view to limiting the options of other contractors or developers. The aim is to document the design process while demonstrating to the construction industry and the public what could be done to advance environmental sustainability.

"We are happy to share the information and make sure they are doing it properly," Mr Lau said.

Mr Chen said that the ultimate objective was to promote the appropriate use of the VGS as an ecological alternative and a suitable design option for the urban environment.
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Old January 8th, 2008, 02:52 PM   #71
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Ever-hotter city prompts call for new air-flow policy
Greens seek ventilation assessments for new high-rises

2 January 2008
South China Morning Post

Green groups are demanding ventilation assessments on all major developments and new open-space requirements between buildings to tackle soaring urban temperatures.

Researchers at Polytechnic University have produced evidence that the density of Hong Kong's high-rise buildings is producing an "urban heat island effect", contributing to rising temperatures in the city.

They commissioned the first high-resolution, nighttime satellite images of Hong Kong last year, showing temperatures in urban areas were up to 7 degrees higher than those in rural areas. Summer nighttime temperatures exceeded 32 degrees Celsius in many areas.

Janet Nichol, joint leader of the project, said last year's annual average temperature of 23.7 degrees - the fifth hottest on record - could reflect the heat island effect as well as global warming because the figures were recorded in the city centre at Tsim Sha Tsui.

"And the evidence suggests that midday temperatures in the core areas such as Mong Kok and Whampoa would have been 2 to 3 degrees higher than those at the Observatory," she said.

Dr Nichol said long spells with the hot weather warning in force, such as the one seen last year, would become more common in coming decades as global temperatures continued to rise and were likely to be accompanied by more heat-related deaths.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen pledged in his October policy address to review the planning system in response to public concern that high-density developments were reducing air circulation and pushing up urban temperatures. The outline zoning plans of various districts are being reviewed and the government plans to revise the restrictions on plot ratio, building height and site coverage to lower development density, where it is deemed justified.

Existing regulations include a requirement that developers planning to build on sites of 2 or more hectares must obtain a study of the building's impact on air flow in the surrounding area known as a "ventilation assessment".

Roy Tam Hoi-pong , president of Green Sense, said: "We believe that the regulations requiring ventilation assessments for new buildings should be made mandatory for all sites of 0.5 hectares or larger. And every single building that is on the waterfront should have a mandatory air ventilation assessment in order to prevent a 'wall effect'."

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director of Friends of the Earth Hong Kong, said: "Ventilation assessments should be mandatory for all new developments whether public or private. This is really vital if we are to alleviate the rising temperatures."
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Old January 11th, 2008, 02:06 PM   #72
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this is what I call "horror show"
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Old March 11th, 2008, 05:34 AM   #73
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Group wants MTR project to be reviewed
11 March 2008
South China Morning Post

A green group has demanded new restrictions be placed on the development of a Sha Tin site in a bid to curb possible "wall effects" created by high-rise buildings that block air flow.

Green Sense said yesterday that it would apply to the Town Planning Board this week for a review of the zoning of the MTR Corporation project atop the Che Kung Temple station. The site covers an area of about 18,000 square metres.

Thirteen developers submitted expressions of interest in the HK$6 billion project by deadline yesterday. The MTR Corp has plans to develop four residential blocks of up to 40 storeys on top of a two-storey podium, offering some 1,240 flats with an average size of 72.4 square metres.

Green Sense project manager Gabrielle Ho Ka-po said: "The present plan will see the future blocks lining up along Shing Mun River like a wall. It will block air flow and also block the views of people in the neighbouring lower-rise residential blocks."

Ms Ho said her group would ask the Town Planning Board to impose height limits of 110 metres, and cap the plot ratio at 4, instead of the existing 5. Plot ratio is the ratio of the gross floor area of buildings to the site area. A higher plot ratio means taller buildings are allowed.

Ms Ho also submitted her group's proposals yesterday to the MTR Corp.

Public concern about "wall effects" caused by high-density buildings has increased in recent years. Green groups claim it affects ventilation and leads to a rise in temperatures.

An MTR Corp spokesman said yesterday the corporation had noted Green Sense's proposals but added that the Che Kung Temple project had been endorsed by the Town Planning Board.
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Old March 14th, 2008, 03:20 AM   #74
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..don' t really like this kinda architecture
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Old March 14th, 2008, 04:05 PM   #75
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who saids Hong Kong doesn't have low rise?
This is where i live - Fairview Park, Yuen Long, NT., Hong Kong SAR







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Old March 14th, 2008, 04:36 PM   #76
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never seen such pics from HK
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Old March 14th, 2008, 06:44 PM   #77
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Quote:
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never seen such pics from HK
coz this place is designed and developed by the Canadian.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 10:59 AM   #78
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My dad lives in the one on the right. Its called Sky Tower. He lives on the 48th floor of tower 3, the one the farthest to the right facing Kai Tak. You could say that he's supporting the vertical greening system, because his balcony is packed with plants.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 07:31 PM   #79
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Two of my family friends used to have holiday homes in Fairview Park, then they realized they almost never used them and sold them.

Fairview Park is "Gum Sao Fa Yuen" right?

I must say, when I went there as a kid, it was quite exciting to see suburban style housing...
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Old April 16th, 2008, 08:21 PM   #80
EricIsHim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gladisimo View Post
Fairview Park is "Gum Sao Fa Yuen" right?
Yes.
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