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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Designers rail against dismal street furniture
90pc of city's signs, litter bins, seats and sculptures are old and fail to match the city's character, say academics
17 April 2006
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong should gear up to develop its own brand of street furniture as existing examples are at least 20 years behind world standards, according to prominent local designers.

Street furniture is a collective term for a range of facilities and displays in public areas, from road signs and litter bins to railings, street lamps, seats and sculpture, said Michael Siu Kin-wai, associate professor of the school of design at Polytechnic University. He specialises in product design, including the design of street furniture and public facilities.

Dr Siu said more than 90 per cent of the street furniture in the city was imported. But much of the furniture comprised old designs and failed to match the environment and character of the city, he said.

Hong Kong Institute of Planners vice-president Pong Yuen-yee described the city's street furniture as "appalling", which she attributed mainly to the bureaucracy's failure to make changes and the lack of a comprehensive policy to develop street furniture. But Ms Pong admitted the Highways Department was aware of the problem and had made improvements in the past few years.

"Hong Kong has the money to buy those products directly from overseas usually after those designs become world-known landmarks, such as the sculptures," Dr Siu said. "However, we should not just copy from other cities as some products may not match the environment and they fail to reflect the special features, landscapes and historical background of this city.

"Hong Kong is world renowned for building infrastructure such as bridges and highways as well as architecture. However, the standard of its street furniture is 20 or even 30 years behind Tokyo and many major cities overseas."

Dr Siu added: "We should develop our own designs, which can better match the special features of this city."

Ms Pong said the government was reluctant to bring in new designs and materials because they might be difficult to maintain.

"Another major obstacle is the never-ending road-digging work in the city as major facilities, including telephone lines, cables and water pipes, are all installed underground," Ms Pong said.

When the issue was raised with different departments, they said they were also worried about spending extra on fixing the city's furniture and new and expensive materials, she said.

Dr Siu said the government should encourage development of designs as part of its promotion of "creative industry".

139,447 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Students plan extra glister for jewellery hub
District lacks eye-catching landmarks, say young designers

18 April 2006
South China Morning Post

Design students are hoping to bring some added glitter to the streets of one of the city's gold and jewellery districts.

Polytechnic University students have crafted a series of designs for Tsuen Wan, including a set of mascots with silver and gold-plated dentures, a silver money tree bearing golden fruit and a troop of monkeys carrying gold bricks.

The students said the streets needed more features - what is called street furniture - to add character to the district.

"Many people come here to shop for jewels and gold ornaments," said the school's associate professor, Michael Siu Kin-wai. "Their eyes just fall on the shop windows. No one really stops in the street and takes photos {hellip} because there are no eye-catching landmarks in this area."

Student Chow Wing-chi, who created the 40cm-tall mascots with gold and silver dentures - Kam-chai [gold boy], Ngan-chai [silver boy] and Ton-chai [bronze boy] - explained that she was inspired by the way elderly Chinese test the purity of gold by bitting it.

The designs have been submitted to the Urban Renewal Authority for consideration.

Tsuen Wan Jewellery and Goldsmith Square refers to the cluster of about 20 shops in the area between Chung On Street, Sha Tsui Road and Chuen Lung Street.

But Professor Siu said the square failed to show any special character to attract public attention. He chose the area as a school project for his students because he believed it was worth developing the area into a more eye-catching attraction.

"One of the major urban design problems in this city is that most districts look so much alike. The very few exceptions can only be found in the areas with high commercial values or those which have been designated as tourist attractions by the government," he said.

The Urban Renewal Authority said it had received the design proposals from the university and was discussing them with other government departments.

Tsuen Wan District councillor Lam Faat-kang said Jewellery and Goldsmith Square had potential to develop into a more attractive tourist area if more tailor-made landmarks could be built.

He said residents were proud of the square, but acknowledged it looked no different from many other areas in Hong Kong.

"We need to make an effort to improve its look and to add more character to this area," Mr Lam said.

"However, the major technical problem would be the busy traffic we don't want the new decorations to cause danger or inconvenience to both drivers and visitors."
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