Define public space:
It’s a place where the general people can access free of charge. It should be away from the major traffic however still somewhat easily to get there. There ought to be trees, a place to rest. That’s how I look at it.
For most landscape architects, I believe their job is to maximize the use of the space, comfort, visual atmosphere, and even functionality. That’s the rational thinking. For architects here, it’s a compromise between ease of maintenance, safety, and budget. You could see how playgrounds or how parks are designed. It ain’t rocket science to figure out the absolute similarities between them. I do not like the lack of creativity in city development. It’s an INSULT to us being a citizen of Hong Kong. All these years we’d been missing the ‘Oh wow’, ‘Surprise me’ factors. I can’t imagine what’s going to come up down the road.
It all came to me after watching a weekly special news report of how parks were delayed in building, poor designs of many rest area.
I think it goes both ways. Our population is divided to some that consider cafe, pool, gym, bar, club as their public space; perhaps that’s how some enjoy their peaceful moment. There’re still those who wish to get closer to the nature in the city, I believe nature can ease all our anxiety builds up during the week. And parks and even zoos can relieve everyone’s tension. I’m a big fan of zoo, It’s one of those places where I could live without a camera for a day. Unfortunately, the government-run zoo here is so small and out of date. And the better one is actually inside a theme park which not everyone can enter without a fee, just to the zoo.
In many districts of Hong Kong, we’re actually lacking of public space in statistics under the international standard. Quality and functionality are both questionable even if there’s one nearby. Although it’s varied by districts, I’m fortunate that there’re a few well-maintained (the best in Hong Kong) parks in walking distance.
I’m living in a neighborhood full of real estate shops. Making the street so dead and unfriendly. Not even a non-franchise coffee shop dares to open there due to the insane rent (or should I say even the franchise won’t consider?). Pedestrian walks are narrow, I think some tourists not only have to worry about cars could possibly hit them, but also get hit by just any shoulder-brushing passer-by.
Whether we’re rich or poor, we have the right to have our own public space. You’d never know when you need it, it’s just there for everyone else to use. Perhaps one day when you have your children, it’d be a daily hangout place with them. Right?