In Praise of Public Spaces

Commercial / 2nd Quarter 2024

In Praise of Public Spaces

by Ian Tan, PhD

June 11, 2024

Think about Hong Kong.

Chances are you will recall images of tower blocks built close and high, resembling a dense wall of glass and concrete stacked to the sky. Building interiors do not fare better. With one of the densest urban populations in the world coupled with sky-high property prices, most residents contend with compact apartments where outstretched arms could touch two ends of bedroom walls.

By no means uncomfortable, my family of three stays in a 30-square-metre apartment with furniture pieces like bed, dining table and wardrobe taking up most of our quarters. With limited space for our toddler to release her boundless energy, we sought out interesting spots around the city instead of whiling our time at home.

Fortunately, Hong Kong has introduced a slew of interesting public spaces in recent years; partly to address the dire lack of open space in the crammed city, but more so due to the government’s placemaking strategy to create vibrant urban areas. This has created a knock-on effect among private developers to reimagine neglected public areas that could incorporate social messages like zero-waste and active lifestyles.

Interestingly, many spaces, including the four projects featured in this essay, are not considered conventional showpiece projects that use outlandish aesthetics or sophisticated gadgets as gimmicks to attract crowds. Instead, they are small, thoughtful interventions that sought to improve the liveability of their neighbourhood.

Read more stories from FuturArc 2Q 2024: In-between Spaces!


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