CDI’s response on the Stage 2 Public Engagement Exercise of Western Kowloon Cultural District
Community Development Initiative (CDI) has been engaging in the current stage Public Engagement (PE) exercise of the Western Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). With hosting Dialogue with Architects series as well as supporting “Inspirations from West Kowloon – Professional Workshops on WKCD designs” organized by the Professional Commons, we are dedicated to provide recommendations as well as facilitating discussions in the public in order to project a vision on cultural district that Hong Kong people treasure. Our organization would be appreciated if board members of the WCKD Authority can consider the following when evaluating 3 conception plan options.
Form of participation
Except for 4 public forums, the general public can only be expressed their opinions via questionnaire provided by the authority. Open submission to the authority has seemingly not been recognized in this PE stage. If the authority is determined to articulate views from the public accurately, options rather than questionnaire should be accepted.
Apart from the form of expressing opinions, flexibility for 3 design and architecture houses to promote their proposals outside the institutions of WKCD authority is limited. It is well-known that the authority has agreements with all 3 houses on such respect but such approach of engagement is subjected to question. With benefits of winning the project, 3 houses would have high incentives to persuade the public to vote for their own option. Nonetheless, certain restrictions imposed by the WKCD authority can only be lifted when the public demanded for more information and interactions with 3 houses in order to make decisions in latter stage of the PE. The authority should consider a more flexible approach in the third PE for the sake of facilitating discussions on the cultural district that belongs to the people in our city.
The last concern is the denial of disclosing financial model projected by 3 different houses, a major consideration that Hong Kong people should be taken into the account when voting for the master design option. Again, transparency of information in the highest possible manner would be a responsible behavior to taxpayers who have spent billions on this project. CDI urge the authority to provide financial model projected by both winning and losing options in the third stage of PE for comparison so as to justify such option would be most beneficial to people of Hong Kong.
Culture or Structure
It would be grateful if this round of PE could have given a vision to the public that what exactly will happen inside the venues, floor spaces and in public area. The authority has synergized opinions from cultural and art communities in stage 1 of PE. Nonetheless, dialogues between houses and the public on their desired activities being held in the WCKD establishments have been absent. The discussion provided by the authority to the public has focused on hardware and designs in this stage of PE and only 1 design house has expressed their views and vision on such respect outside from platforms provided by the authorities. Therefore, the authority should consider the linkage between activities and spaces in which activities in the proposed areas, establishments and spaces from 3 conceptual plans should be explained as detail as possible.
Landscape coherence with the community
In this stage of PE, discussion on affects of WKCD to the community is loomed. There is only 1 design house can provide visual projections of WKCD viewing from the High Speed Rail (XRL) station. The authority should concern whether residential and commercial development of the station would block, destroy or deteriorate the scene and design of WKCD. As a key stakeholder, the WKCD authority has the responsibility to maintain the scene and landscape of the cultural district should not be destroyed. Regarding the XRL development as a result of gentrification of WKCD, the authority should be working with affected residents because of the establishment of both WKCD and XRL station closely in order to reduce affects to the community due to developments as much as possible. Lastly, CDI would be glad to be acknowledged if the design of XRL station development shown in all 3 conceptual plans is the standard given to the authority by MTR Corporation.