Water + City

水+城市/ Water + City
SKY-YUTAKA artist statement, KAI TAK RIVER GREEN CORRIDOR Community Education Project:

The Kai Tak Green Corridor project question about our consideration towards “Water”, vital resource for human activity and life. Also relationship of the river in its context of the “City”, highly complex human habitat. Given the dynamic transformations of the land in South East Kowloon, Hong Kong and vast area created on artificially reclaimed land, relationship between “Water + City” also makes us consider how humans relates to nature, landscape and sea.

Taking a brief look at how Hong Kong has dynamically transformed in the past 60 years with technological progress and advance engineering, unique high density city that has become a catalyst for other Asian cities, there is a great sense of optimism and excitement in the city. At the same time we are increasingly becoming aware of our eco-system and the complex task that lies ahead of managing limited resources, which are direct consequences of urbanisations and population increase. Today there is a dilemma in our society; we enjoy our lifestyle in the city yet it is becoming apparent that our lifestyle also causes problems such as pollution and depreciation of natural resources. How can we improve relationship between urbanisation and nature? How can people, the city and nature co-exist? The regeneration of Kai Tak River involves issues related not only local communities but also society at large, the core issue has global scale.
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Kai Tak River and South East Kowloon:
Development of Kai Tak River originates in accumulative transformation of South East Kowloon, sites of many cultural heritage (including Sacred Hill, Kowloon City Public Pier, the Walls of Kowloon City, and Ma Tau Kok Large Animal Quarantine Depot). The area around South East Kowloon where Kai Tak River is located (including South Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay, Ngau Chi Wan, San Po Kong, Wang Tai Hom, Ma Tau Kok) has grown from small town and fishing villages to highly urbanised city of 1 million[1] in a half century. With the redevelopment of former Kai Tak Airport site, there is expected additional population increase of approx. 90,000 people in the area starting from 2013[2]. The impact of transformation of this area become more apparent when one realises that South East Kowloon district including Kai Tak, Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong are largely located on top of artificial land created between 1922 to 1996; it is part of Hong Kong’s modern history of urbanisation tendency to extend the land towards waterfront area.

Hong Kong Planning Framework:
In Hong Kong today, it is evident that the Government has been taking strong initiative in driving urbanisation of the city. From the early 60’s, since the introduction of planning system in Hong Kong, the city has developed clear planning frameworks with increasingly prescriptive planning guidelines to control the development of land. It could be said that one characteristic of the Hong Kong development process today is the Government, who are the ultimate Landowner, with the authority to plan and efficiently organise large areas of lands for developers to swiftly execute development which creates continuous mechanism for Hong Kong to dynamically urbanise its land. This is especially true for new land such as reclaimed land development.
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Future of Kai Tak River:
Like systematic planning process and urbanisation organised by the authority, we must find the medium of communication where community can join the debate and contribute to transformation of the city. Community based art project and workshop such as the one initiated by the Kai Tak Green Corridor is great way to engage people and promote discourse about our environment, particularly in the educational field where teachers play an active role. The Workshop becomes a Learning Platform where the questions are askedWhy and How our cities evolving? Learning about our city and environment becomes the foundation of knowledge from where we can collectively search for improvement to our future. Timeframe of the transformation for Kai Tak River, like how South East Kowloon have evolved, will happen over many years in the future. Therefore success of regeneration of this area will depends on maintaining framework to continue the discourse, to develop our knowledge about our city and environment.

“Water + City” is part of group exhibition for “KAI TAK RIVER GREEN CORRIDOR Community Education Project” at 1a Space starting 22nd of June – 10th Aug 2012, http://www.oneaspace.org.hk

[1]2006 Population By-Census

[2]S/K22 Kai Tak Out Line Zoning Plan 2012. Available from Town Planning Board HK.