public space design and research
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High five In the Sky! - Hong Kong

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High-5 in the Sky!

Winning proposal in an ideas competition for the pedestrianisation of Des Voeux Road Central in the heart of Hong Kong.

Our design received first place in the Walk DVRC design competition which aims to transform Des Voeux Road Central into a dynamic public realm worthy of a city of Hong Kong’s image and status. Walk DVRC’s mission includes linking this critical artery to the cultural and heritage sites that surround it. Our proposal reorganises Des Voeux Road Central around a central Sheung Wan Square and 5 iconic tram-stops, each with an elevated public space on its roof. Together they create a cohesive 21st-Century public realm with a global identity defined by traditional Hong Kong streetscapes.

Project type: Public Space Design

Size: 1.4km

Client: Walk DVRC

Date: 2018

Collaborators: MLA+, MIC, OlaCola

Team: Daryl Mulvihill, Augusto Rodriguez

Our 5-Step Strategy to transform the street:

  1. Improve the street profile

  2. Different street characters meet at Sheung Wan square

  3. Re-define the Tram

  4. Add five iconic tram stops

  5. Connect with the wider context

Currently the area surrounding Des Voeux Road Central constitutes a complex tri-dimensional pedestrian environment that comprises several levels: at grade sidewalks, elevated walkways and underground metro passages. Five new tram stops connect these different pedestrian levels with DVRC and its traditional tram infrastructure, integrating and optimising the environment for pedestrian mobility, safety, wayfinding and comfort. In addition to this connectivity, the tram stops roofs are elevated public spaces, providing 2,500m2 of culture & heritage, garden and play spaces in one of the highest density urban areas in the world

The complexity of the context is negotiated by reclaiming the generosity of the original streetscape and re-establishing the domain of the pedestrian in one of Hong Kong’s main thoroughfares. A new Sheung wan square becomes a focal point at the heart of DVRC, connected with the metro, this linear public space is set-up by re-aligning the tram lines at one key stretch of DVRC.

The pedestrianisation of DVRC will be the catalyst for a wider public realm improvements across the districts of Central and Sheung Wan, the linear connection of DVRC should be matched with lateral connections of equal quality along Queens road, connecting with the residential districts to the south and waterfront to the north.

Five new tramstops on Des Voeux Road Central

Neon Gateway

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A neon landmark signals the entrance to Des Voeux Road paying homage to the traditional signs of Hong Kong. WALK DVRC lets you know you have entered the main pedestrian street in Hong Kong island. On the roof a neon garden with a vista down DVRC provides an unforgettable urban spectacle to the visitor. The existing skywalks extend and connect to the tramstop allowing pedestrians from the upper levels to reach the tram system directly.

Lanes at Central

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The improvements are extended to Connaught Road and Queens Road. On Connaught Road additional capacity is required for westbound buses. Here bus-stops are integrated with planting and seating providing shaded waiting spaces. The lanes towards Queens road provide a rich human scale environment for the pedestrian. Informal spaces combined with greening strategies that are inviting on the micro and temporal scale, in the lanes we are invited to sit, to watch and to take part in the daily life of Central.

Garden Oasis

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The second tram-stop you meet on the walk contains an overflowing raised garden on its roof. An elevated oasis of calm, an intimate meeting point and resting place among the hustle and bustle of Central. The greenery cools the street and brings shade to pedestrians and those waiting for the tram.

The Cloud

The Cloud is the platform for contemporary artists to showcase their work in an incredible surroundings. The rooftop contains contemporary arts programming curated by Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, to which it is connected via the elevated walkway and mid level escalator system at the central market.

Sheung Wan River Square

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A new square at the heart of Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan River Square closely linked with Sheung Wan MTR Station. Here the square acts as an orientation point for the wider district for visitors exiting from the metro. A flexible public space that can adapt to different uses and users depending on the time of day or year. During the week it can accommodate large flows of pedestrians while at the weekend it becomes more playful with water fountains along its length.

Vertical Playground

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Just after Sheung Wan square an extended playground in the sky, this tramstop has a skating bowl topped by a multifunctional sports court, what a setting to play 5-a side. Underneath a new skywalk allows you to connect to the Macau ferry terminal.

Western Market

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Des Voeux Road Central ends at the historic western market building, here the pedestrian can now continue easily via the elevated tramstop, to the north or south. The tramstop frames a new square in front of the Western Market. To the north the walkway connects to the waterfront, to the south you can connect directly with Sheung Wan cooked food market and further to Lascar Row Market.