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Active Design Guidelines, Hong Kong

Creating an active city with healthy people

Modern technology, while offering unprecedented daily convenience, has inadvertently reduced our physical activity. Apart from public promotions, planners, architects and designers can play an important role in encouraging healthier lifestyles by implementing the ‘active design’ concepts in urban development.

Drawing upon our global expertise, as well as engaging with local stakeholders, academics and the industry, Arup and the Hong Kong government’s Planning Department delivered the first-of-its-kind strategy and design guidelines for Hong Kong’s urban transformation. Our study, which incorporates comprehensive research,  identifies the barriers and opportunities for various user groups and aims to shape an urban environment that makes it easier for all Hong Kong residents, regardless of age or fitness level, to choose more active daily lives.

Active Design Video
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Creating an active city with healthy people

Responding to the complexity of designing high-density urban environments, a challenging topography and introducing our global expertise of Cities, we formulated the Active Design Guidelines with themes, objectives and design guidelines at the neighbourhood and the building scales.

At the neighbourhood scale, the Guidelines emphasise the creation of an active city through the provision of diverse and flexible active destinations that are accessible for all groups in the society, complemented by interesting and convenient pedestrian routings, providing people with the opportunity to engage in more physical activities in their daily life.

At the building scale, since buildings in the city are composed of multiple uses, the Guidelines focus on the strategic positioning of building functions, the creation of active spaces and facilities as well as the designing of active routes within and around the building, encouraging users’ movement. Active building frontages support a vibrant and safe pedestrian realm, enhancing the walking experience.

Contributing to a healthy urban environment

The progression from policy to implementation is challenging. Our study proposed an incremental approach to mainstreaming the concept of active design in the planning and development process. As a start, we’ve made the Active Design Guidelines publicly available to raise awareness among practitioners; followed by promoting the application of the Guidelines in multiple public development projects to capture public attention on the associated benefits of active design; and then scaling up effort to institutionalise the Guidelines into the planning and development regime.

The Active Design Guidelines not only serve as a valuable reference for the design practitioners to understand and incorporate active design considerations in development projects, but also provide a forward-looking and people-oriented approach to nurturing active design, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, at all ages.