Long-recognised as one of Hong Kong’s traditional industrial zones, Kwun Tong has been transforming rapidly over recent years as commercial buildings gradually take root in the area under the Hong Kong Government’s vision of building a new CBD in Kowloon East.
Apart from developing the area into a smart city, it is planned to create a walkable and pleasant pedestrian environment and an easily accessible transport network for this Kwun Tong Business Area to enhance its connectivity to the nearby Kwun Tong and Ngau Tau Kok MTR Stations and Kwun Tong Promenade, one of the city’s most attractive harbourside parks.
Arup has been engaged by the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) of the Development Bureau to formulate feasible improvement schemes and proposals for this vision.
10 major corridors proposed
3stages of public engagement organised
Leading the change
Due to its industrial past, Kwun Tong and its vicinity were developed with a priority for vehicular traffic, with plenty of loading/unloading areas along the roads and relatively narrow footways. These facilities can no longer cope with the escalating pedestrian and traffic flows being generated by this transformation and they are also restricting the future development of the area.
In this study, Arup has led the redesign of the pedestrian realm and urban feel of the area through assessing the pedestrian and vehicular environment and identifying schemes to enhance pedestrian connectivity, walkability and road safety.
Weaving a pedestrian network
Arup’s study applied the same ‘weaving’ concept as advocated by the EKEO for improving the pedestrian network in the entire Kowloon East. In Kwun Tong, with the major linkages between Kwun Tong Road and Kwun Tong Promenade forming the pedestrian spines in the area, we proposed to integrate ten major corridors, six north-south links and four other east-west ones into a spatial pedestrian system.
We were subsequently appointed by the Highways Department to further develop our design concept into detailed design and to recommend the most efficient schemes for the barrier-free facilities, subway links and walkway system that are compatible with the surrounding environment and which will create a high-quality pedestrian environment.
‘Place-making’ to make a difference
Our solutions have not only devised a framework and vision for improving the pedestrian and transportation network, but also incorporate ‘place-making’ strategies to rejuvenate the area. Our place-making approach starts with many simple yet effective quick-wins at ‘test points’, referred to as ‘acupuncture’ by our project team, which enable the public to benefit immediately from the improvements.
A highlight of these measures is promoting back alleys as pedestrian corridors. Kwun Tong has a unique back alley network between industrial buildings. It was previously used for loading/unloading but has been underutilised in recent years. By revitalising these wide back alleys with, for example, graffiti and artwork by local students, artists and NGOs, they can provide a third layer to the current road/pedestrian network and relieve the pavement congestion on adjacent main streets during peak hours.
Smarter, more accessible transportation
In line with the EKEO’s preliminary smart city strategy, we also proposed several smart transport management solutions. These included setting up smart logistic lockers that provide a quick and easy service option for both recipients and senders, thus lessening the loading/unloading activities. We also suggested that ‘Hong Kong eTransport Information Service’ be available at the electronic information platform in shopping malls and commercial buildings in the district.
Optimising franchised bus access to the stations was also an integral part of the study. We have assessed various measures to improve franchised bus service including identifying feasible locations and developing details for new bus-to-bus interchange within Kowloon East.
Valuing people’s voice
To shape a pedestrian environment that truly fits people’s daily needs, we have organised three stages of public engagement activities to gauge the public views on our proposal.
Apart from the usual exhibitions and community workshops, we have also launched an interactive map on the client’s website which was jointly developed by our Management Consulting, Transport Consulting and GIS teams. Different stakeholders can identify problem areas by a simple click on the map and then entering their comments. This allows us to collect public feedback to formulate our proposals and further refine our solutions.