Findings from other Public Engagement Activities
Under the premise that a White Paper on Long Term Housing Strategy in Hong Kong (1998) indicates that 566 public housing buildings built before 1973 have to be redeveloped, the HKU Knowledge Exchange Project – Future Directions of Hong Kong Public Housing Redevelopment – was conducted during August 2018 – June 2019, with the aim to explore current Hong Kong public housing redevelopment projects, and incubate discussions to inspire future development directions.
The research focuses on finding out various open / community / landscape spaces that residents appreciate in their original / existing housing estates, and how these spatial qualities inspire future estate redevelopment.
Three housing estates were selected for the study: So Uk Estate (redeveloped), Pak Tin Estate (under redevelopment), and Wah Fu Estate (will be redeveloped). While these three estates are at different phases of the redevelopment process, comparisons among them inspire understanding of the pros and cons of the recent redevelopment approaches.
This project was funded by HKU Knowledge Exchange, and was organised by HKU Division of Landscape Architecture. Besides having an exhibition, there were also public engagement activities to seek people’s thoughts on this topic.
Aerial photo of So Uk Estate (redeveloped)
Pak Tin Estate (redeveloping)
Wah Fu Estate (to be redeveloped)
Comparison between the three selected housing estates
All of the three estates had profound history, similar major age groups and site terrain. The evaluation criteria for the three selected housing estates includes connectivity to the surrounding neighborhood, diversity of public spaces.
|Connectivity to nearby context||Public Space within the Estate|
|So Uk Estate||40 anchor programs are accessible within a 15 minutes walk. Just redeveloped, So Uk estate shows heavy reliance on the nearby community.||Public spaces are inserted as individual pocket parks and scattered throughout the main transitional passages.|
|Pak Tin||While Pak Tin Estate is self-sustained, 22 anchor programs are accessible in a 15 minutes walk outside the public estate.||Public spaces designed during the 1980s are distributed evenly throughout the Estate. The current redevelopment features mass greening and allocating public spaces to transitional area.|
|Wah Fu||Wah Fu Estate is the most self-sustaining estate amongst the three. Most of the anchor programmes are accessible within the Estate.||Unlike the other two estates, Wah Fu Estate’s public spaces are clustered and concentrated near residential building blocks.|
Table 1: Comparisons of three studied public housing estates’ connectivity to nearby context and public space within the estate.
General public’s opinions
In this project, there were interactive public engagement components. Through these engagements, we were able to find out how the general public thinks about public housing estate redevelopment. The engagements were mostly framed to be about how the everyday space of a public housing resident’s daily experience may be impacted by housing estate redevelopment. Categories of discussion include environment density; play-scapes; entrance landscape; sports facilities; greening; transitional space; heritage and shops. Approximately 100 people participated in the engagement.
Categories of discussion in the “Future Directions of Hong Kong Public Housing Redevelopment” Project
Under these eight categories of discussions, game cards were developed to depict the various scenarios possible in each category. Visitors were given a game board to use these game cards to create their own ideal public housing. The edge of the game board implies the size of the imaginary housing estate, and visitors were free to choose any categories and quantities of game cards as long as they fit to the game board.
Game board for visitors to envision “What is your ideal public housing estate?”
Based on the ideal public housing estate schemes we received via the game board, here is the summary of what scenarios are being more popular within each category of discussion:
|Category of discussion||Observations|
|Living environment Density||High-density community serves more households and suits the context of Hong Kong.|
|Entrance landscape||Large scale estate-managed plaza with more community space is welcome.|
|Greening||Trees are preferred because they provide great shading. Accessible green spaces are also in demand.|
|Transitional space||Covered walkway and bridges are preferred since they allow easy access throughout the whole estate regardless of weather condition.|
|Sports facilities & Play-scapes||Designated use of space for both sport facilities and play-scapes are sought-after. However, Informal use of space and open space are also popular, reflecting the desire for more freedom in these programmes.|
|Heritage||Conservation of physical / tangible heritage is being valued.|
|Shops||Shopping mall could serve as the centre for the estate and is therefore preferred.|
During the public engagement, the question of “what is your ideal public housing redevelopment?” was discussed, and here are some highlights of the responses received via written comments:
- “Community spaces are the most important.”
- “Public housing should promote community + local identities.”
- “There should be a balance between living space and housing demand.”
- “More diversity for public housing and play scape design.”
- “Public space should connect the youth and the elderly.”
While this project discovered some insightful opinions from the general public about public housing redevelopment, the categories of discussion can be strengthened to reflect and address issues that are most at stake to residents facing redevelopment / relocation.
Nevertheless, the game did reflect on how the general public sees an ideal public housing living environment – a good reference when designing the future redevelopment of public housing in Hong Kong.