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Redevelopment of an Old Residential Area (Thesis, 1996/1997)

Abstract
By : Chan Cheuk Pan, Anson

 
Introduction
Urban decay is a problem in old districts of a metropolis like Hong Kong. In order to have a better understanding of the issues of urban redevelopment, it is necessary to outline the background in respect of the Government’s involvement in tackling the problem of urban decay. The establishment of Land Development Corporation (LDC) and later Urban Renewal Authority (URA) aimed at speeding up the process of redevelopment and thus generates opportunities for rearrangement of buildings, realignment of streets, road widening and clearance of illegal structures. Large scale redevelopment also allows the provision of and/or making up of the shortfall in community and recreational facilities. However, detriment rather than benefit in the environmental and sociological terms can be resulted if the objectives and means of urban redevelopment are not formulated properly.
Experiences from current urban renewal projects indicate that dilapidated low-income housing units are always demolished to give way to high-income residential, commercial and office developments. Undoubtedly the change of land use would lead to the raise-up of land value. But relocation of the affected residents outside their neighborhood will further disrupt the cohesiveness of the existing valuable old district community. So before imposing any prototype design, a better understanding of the essence and logic of existing situation is encourage, to investigate the possibility of depicting, preserving, enhancing and renovating the remains of the old district.
In this study, a proposed scheme is suggested to integrated mixed-use development is proposed as the means to revitalize this blighted area by infusing it with inhabitants and activities.
Social context is the primary concern in a redevelopment. Emphasis is paid on their existing living style, e.g. enhancement of pocket gardens, dress-up of night street market, preservation of existing old-styled restaurant, etc. where strong interactions states. It is always difficult to re-create an existing social spots, which is formed in some 50 years naturally. So, the approach is to improve the poor physical condition, yet maintaining its unique psychological status, rather than recreating any physical form of spaces.
Breaking through of strong defensible spaces generated in old district is also extremely important to inject new forces into the area. The participation of tourists and out-comers can undoubtedly increase the economic value of the place, thus the financial value as well.
In old district of Hong Kong, illegal structure added on to the façade of buildings are common phenomenon, creating safety and health problems. However, illegal structure should not be praised merely for disobeying the law. The value of illegal structures as elements of fantasy should be resorted into a logical yet chaotic way. In the proposal, this chaotic streetscape is expressed on the façade of a new high-rise hotel to harmonize the insert of new development in the old context.
Illegal structures in the old district demonstrate a concrete alternative version of homogeneous space. In high density redevelopment schemes, identification of the individual within the community are always ignored. To recreate the essence of personalization in modern programs, it is proposed in the study that the property right of external walls of a building can be owned by the individual owner, not the building corporation. Users participate in expression of the outer layer of the buildings and demonstrate the dynamic function of the outer layer along the street.

Tutor’s Comments
Over the last 150 years Hong Kong has developed unique urban patterns characterized by mixed use in high density conditions. Retail shops, offices, restaurants, discos, karaoke lounges, hostels and apartments typically vertically overlap in one building block, all identifying themselves with brightly lit signage attached somehow onto the structure. Individual buildings and complexes of buildings experience constant and rapid physical and programmatic change. Mixed land and building use bring life to the street. Information and energy flows are intensified among businesses, workplaces and residences.
This thesis project tries to maintain and enhance dynamism in Hong Kong’s urban renewal. It entered upon this mega-complexity with an intention, despite appearing as a result and not its cause. It tried to expand architectural discourse and get beyond the narrow ideologies, which contradict the realities of actual practice.
Introduction
Urban decay is a problem in old districts of a metropolis like Hong Kong. In order to have a better understanding of the issues of urban redevelopment, it is necessary to outline the background in respect of the Government’s involvement in tackling the problem of urban decay. The establishment of Land Development Corporation (LDC) and later Urban Renewal Authority (URA) aimed at speeding up the process of redevelopment and thus generates opportunities for rearrangement of buildings, realignment of streets, road widening and clearance of illegal structures. Large scale redevelopment also allows the provision of and/or making up of the shortfall in community and recreational facilities. However, detriment rather than benefit in the environmental and sociological terms can be resulted if the objectives and means of urban redevelopment are not formulated properly.
Experiences from current urban renewal projects indicate that dilapidated low-income housing units are always demolished to give way to high-income residential, commercial and office developments. Undoubtedly the change of land use would lead to the raise-up of land value. But relocation of the affected residents outside their neighborhood will further disrupt the cohesiveness of the existing valuable old district community. So before imposing any prototype design, a better understanding of the essence and logic of existing situation is encourage, to investigate the possibility of depicting, preserving, enhancing and renovating the remains of the old district.
In this study, a proposed scheme is suggested to integrated mixed-use development is proposed as the means to revitalize this blighted area by infusing it with inhabitants and activities.
Social context is the primary concern in a redevelopment. Emphasis is paid on their existing living style, e.g. enhancement of pocket gardens, dress-up of night street market, preservation of existing old-styled restaurant, etc. where strong interactions states. It is always difficult to re-create an existing social spots, which is formed in some 50 years naturally. So, the approach is to improve the poor physical condition, yet maintaining its unique psychological status, rather than recreating any physical form of spaces.
Breaking through of strong defensible spaces generated in old district is also extremely important to inject new forces into the area. The participation of tourists and out-comers can undoubtedly increase the economic value of the place, thus the financial value as well.
In old district of Hong Kong, illegal structure added on to the façade of buildings are common phenomenon, creating safety and health problems. However, illegal structure should not be praised merely for disobeying the law. The value of illegal structures as elements of fantasy should be resorted into a logical yet chaotic way. In the proposal, this chaotic streetscape is expressed on the façade of a new high-rise hotel to harmonize the insert of new development in the old context.
Illegal structures in the old district demonstrate a concrete alternative version of homogeneous space. In high density redevelopment schemes, identification of the individual within the community are always ignored. To recreate the essence of personalization in modern programs, it is proposed in the study that the property right of external walls of a building can be owned by the individual owner, not the building corporation. Users participate in expression of the outer layer of the buildings and demonstrate the dynamic function of the outer layer along the street.

Tutor’s Comments
Over the last 150 years Hong Kong has developed unique urban patterns characterized by mixed use in high density conditions. Retail shops, offices, restaurants, discos, karaoke lounges, hostels and apartments typically vertically overlap in one building block, all identifying themselves with brightly lit signage attached somehow onto the structure. Individual buildings and complexes of buildings experience constant and rapid physical and programmatic change. Mixed land and building use bring life to the street. Information and energy flows are intensified among businesses, workplaces and residences.
This thesis project tries to maintain and enhance dynamism in Hong Kong’s urban renewal. It entered upon this mega-complexity with an intention, despite appearing as a result and not its cause. It tried to expand architectural discourse and get beyond the narrow ideologies, which contradict the realities of actual practice.

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