City Art Square @ Shatin, Hong KongEdit profile
City Art Square Context of Hong Kong To the people of Hong Kong, large and open public spaces are almost a rarity. With a population of some 7 million in the territory of less than 1,100 sq.km. (including the hills and seas), the issue of space could not be more pressing. The immediate solution to tackle this long standing condition, does not limit itself to ever rising skylines, but also extends to a maximum site coverage of buildings, leaving minimal strips land for pedestrian flow. Dedicated parks are often very restrictive and highly fenced off by wires. Casual and easily accessible piazzas and squares seem remote dreams. The Site The existing site is one in-between space of 190,000sq.ft., in the shape of a dumbbell, sandwiched by a very popular regional shopping mall and a cluster of government public facility buildings, primarily serves as a pedestrian connector throughout the 30 years of conception of the area. While the government public facility buildings are managed by the Hong Kong's Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the pedestrian connector being managed by the Highways Department. The demarcation site-wise and function-wise, could not be clearer. Considering the urban situation of the lack of open public spaces, or living spaces, and the remoteness of art and cultural facilities, could an extra function be added onto the existing site, regenerating urban resources to serve the residents and visitors to the populous Shatin satellite town area? Could the three identities (the government public facilities, the site, and the shopping mall) be better integrated into a whole for a relaxed and total leisure experience, rather than segregated activities? The Collaboration The idea of urban regeneration for the existing site should not limit to mere beautification by repaving and replanting. To turn the space into a hospitable living space more needed to be done than the confines of the exiting institutions allow. A steering committee, formed by the Donor Developer of the beautification project, Elected District Councillors (representing the stakeholders of the area), Legislative Councillors, Architects, University Professor, Hong Kong Museum of Art Chief Curator, was set up to spearhead this groundbreaking international public art project, one that was out of the box for Hong Kong. Rounds of discussions were carried out with the Hong Kong Government, including the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the body that would be managing the regenerated space. Eventually, to the luck of Hong Kong citizens, the 3 organisational bodies: the general public including the cultural sector, the business sector represented by the Donor Developer, and the Government all joined hands to bring into Hong Kong 19 pieces of functional and sculptural street furniture and artworks from achieved and budding architects, designers and artists (including Zaha Hadid Architects, Xu Bing, Vivienne Tam, etc) in a beautified public art park - City Art Square, open for the public 24/7. City Art Square City Art Square is a result of a close collaboration of the General Public, Business Sector, and the Government, from the regeneration of an existing connecting space. Apart from redesigning most of the soft and hard landscape, decking and plantations were also new highlighting the different zones. The Eastern Strip where the bus stops are, were repaved with jumbo decking patterns resembling a rolled out carpet in origami that leads to the central axis of the park, in an attempt to create a sense of welcome and arrival. At various points, the deck folds up into benches of differing forms and lengths, providing leisure seating in the Square. Linking to the Wedding Garden marked by a raised lawn platform, a horticultural portal and Engagement sculpture, the central axis has on one side a leisurely boardwalk offering unchallenged views from the restaurants in the shopping mall, and on the other the introduction of lush shrubs and water features. 19 pieces of international and local, site specific and functional artworks were well designed into the area on a permanent and public basis. Various types of artwork include sculpture, street furniture, environmental painting, installation art, artwork paving, and so on could be found in the site, distinguishing City Art Square from sculpture parks. Participating artists, architects and designers include: Zaha Hadid Architects (UK), Xu Bing(China), Mimmo Paladino (Italy), Dennis Oppenheim (USA), Vivienne Tam (USA), Barrie Ho (HK), Nina Jobs (Sweden), Joaquin Palencia (The Philippines), WOKmedia (UK), Freeman Lau (HK), Danny Lee (HK), James Law (HK), Mathias Bengtsson (Denmark), Zhang Yu (China), Tom Thiel (Germany), Mok Yat-san and Man Fung-yi (HK), Sara Tse (HK), Michael Yen (HK). Achievement In this international scale, this public art park is pioneering in Hong Kong, bringing art ever closer to everyday lives. But to us, the park itself is not the only achievement. The team is proud that this project has demonstrated a close collaboration model between the General Public, Business Sector, and the Government, could achieve big, making all the daring ideas come true.