By Ronald Lu.
A new Chief Executive for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was sworn into office in July this year. The new Chief Executive, Leung Chun Ying (or better known as CY Leung), studied valuation and estate management at Bristol Polytechnic in the UK, and was the president of Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors from 1995 to 1996.In his inaugural speech, the CY Leung promised to seek change while preserving stability and to oppose a major reversal of government policy. Two of his presentations included promoting economic development and to facilitate home ownership for Hong Kong citizens. Both of these aspirations have positive assurance to the development of the architectural profession.
Since the start of the financial tsunami in 2008, the Hong Kong government has invested heavily in infrastructural projects focused on stabilizing and developing the economy. From an annual expenditure of HK$20.5 billion (AUD$2.56 billion) on capital projects, the government has tripled this amount to over HK$62.3 billion (AUD$ 7.78 billion) in the 2012-2013 budget. New road and rail connections with the mainland and Macau are being planned and constructed with a mind to strengthening the regional economy. At the same time, land formation and infrastructure improvements are implemented for boosting land supply for housing and commercial developments. Some of the more notable projects which have very high design aspirations and have carried out international design competitions include the following:
HZMB is a large sea crossing linking the Hong Kong, Zhuhai City of Guangdong Province and Macao Special Administrative Region. It consists of a 29.6 km 6 lanes Main Bridge and a 6.7 km undersea tunnel across the Pearl River Estuary together with link roads within the three places.
As part of the HZMB project, the HKBCF will serve as a transportation hub and provide clearance facilities for goods and passengers. It will be located at an artificial island of about 130 hectares reclaimed from the open waters off the northeast of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) at Chek Lap Kok.
The new boundary control point (BCP) in the border area of North-eastern New Territories comprises site formation works for about 23 hectares of land, provision of BCP buildings and associated facilities, construction of about 11km long dual 2-lane truck road, improvement works to a section of about 4.5km long Shenzhen River and the associated landscaping works and re-provisioning of Chuk Yuen Village which is affected by the project.
The 26-km long Hong Kong Section of the XRL runs from West Kowloon in Hong Kong to the boundary of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The XRL will connect with the 16,000-km National High-speed Railway Network and will enhance Hong Kong’s role as the southern gateway to the Mainland.The West Kowloon Terminus (WKT) situated just north of the West Kowloon Cultural District and Victoria Harbour will allow passengers from the Mainland to arrive at the heart of the city.
A 40 hectare site situated by Victoria Harbour with a panoramic view of Hong Kong Island, the WKCD is a strategic investment by the government to meet the long-term infrastructure needs of the arts and cultural sector, which is a vital part of any world-class city’s economic and social fabric. It is a whole new piece of the city with a rich mix of residential and commercial uses of which 36% of the total GFA is designated for 17 arts and cultural venues which includes a museum, exhibition centre, multipurpose venue, theatres, outdoor performance venues and concert halls. The first phase of these venues is scheduled for completion between 2017 and 2020.
Besides infrastructural projects, the government has pledged to increase land and housing supply to as many as 65,000 new private units in the next three to four years – 30 percent higher than the average under the last administration to help first time buyers to get into the market. By increasing supply over demand, the government hopes to curb the growing asset bubble that is fueled by U.S. monetary easing and record-low interest rates. To this end, the government has introduced a 15% property tax targeted at overseas buyers for the very first time in Hong Kong history.
Through the many projects, the Hong Kong government is focused on promoting our economy, enhancing our cultural literacy, encouraging creativity and improving the livability of the city. A new Waterfront Authority is proposed this year to oversee the design, implementation, operation and management of the Hong Kong waterfront holistically. Urban renewal of old industrial areas has also been accelerated to release more sites for residential or commercial development. With all these initiatives, it is an exciting time to be in Hong Kong. The city will soon experience noticeable changes as these major projects are completed and activated in the coming years.
Image credits: Ronald Lu