Pedestrian-Forward Scheme Revealed for Hong Kong's Wan Chai District

Visualization showing key roads and their integration into the new Wan Chai Connect concept. Image: DCMS
Visualization showing key roads and their integration into the new Wan Chai Connect concept. Image: DCMS
28 May 2020 Hong Kong, China

Billed as Hong Kong’s equivalent of the New York High Line, Wan Chai Connect is a vision for the future. 
Wan Chai Connect will deliver a significant new public space, with the aim to make it enjoyable and easy to walk around the area. 

The Hong Kong Government is selling its Wan Chai government complex site in 2021 that currently houses three office towers and a fire station. This will be then be redeveloped to extend the conference center and provide new commercial space. This site is the largest and most strategically located in Wan Chai, it sits front and center to the most significant challenge to Wan Chai – the eight lanes of Gloucester road that runs through it, decreasing seamless connectivity.

The Wan Chai Connect Design Group (Design Group) is a multi-disciplinary team of urban professionals who care passionately about the city. They view this as a unique opportunity to revitalise Wan Chai socially, economically, and environmentally as a significant positive vision for Hong Kong’s status as an Asian World City.

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The independent Design Group proposes to significantly enhance the redevelopment of the site by creating an innovative “Golden Triangle." This triangle will reconnect north-south Wan Chai from the mountains to the Harbour and build an east-west promenade over Gloucester Road from the Arsenal Street Flyover to the China Resources Building via an elevated park. This will provide 55,000 square meters of outdoor public space for Wan Chai, creating a new Central Business District that will transform the future trajectory of the district and Hong Kong. The plan will bring the Hong Kong waterfront back to old Wan Chai by connecting the new convention hall to existing office buildings and linking adjacent areas, including Admiralty, Wan Chai, Exhibition MTR Stations, Wan Chai Ferry and Tramlines via a landscaped elevated promenade – a people-centric sancturary to rest, relax and enjoy the city, cities are about people not cars.

Serving as a catalyst for regeneration, Wan Chai Connect provides a people-centric connectivity solution, that delivers significant new public space.
“Private developers haven’t always historically worked with local communities to create functional but iconic public spaces or looked beyond the site to maximize value,” said Peter Dampier, Lead Consultant of the Design Group and Marketing and Relationships Director at Buro Happold, Asia.
The Design Group believes that the provision of public space should be considered now in conjunction with the needs and desires of the Wan Chai community. The estimated cost of Wan Chai Connect’s social infrastructure (excluding the extension to the convention center and new commercial tower) is $1.65 billion HKD (US$21 billion).

Wan Chai Connect presents a rare, visionary, and unmissable opportunity to restore Hong Kong’s position as a leading World City.
Taking inspiration from innovative projects such as New York High Line (an abandoned railway redeveloped into a green walkway and now the No.1 tourist attraction in New York), Seoul’s Seoullo (a former highway transformed to a sky garden), and Hong Kong Mid-Levels escalators (that has catalyzed commercial opportunities whilst sustainably assisting mid-levels commuting to central).

“Our vision involves seamlessly and holistically re-connecting Wan Chai with its lost waterfront; cross-pollinates community, encourages a healthier, walkable, “15-Minute-City” lifestyle; integrates with the city’s enviable public transport network; re-prioritizes the needs of people before vehicles; and creates a landmark icon capable of re-establishing Hong Kong as a global leader in urban innovation,” says Peter Brannan, Conceptual Master Planning of the Design Group and the Managing Director of Studio B.

For more on this story, go to BuroHappold.

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