It is not often that a landscape architect is asked to redesign a stretch of one of the most iconic harbours in the world. James Corner Field Operations has updated the Avenue of Stars promenade for the twenty-first century.
19 March, 2019
Protruding into the world-famous Victoria Harbour, the Avenue of Stars promenade gives striking views of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline while paying homage to the city’s renowned cinematic history. New World Development (NWD) tasked landscape architects James Corner Field Operations with updating the public promenade for the twenty-first century.
Adrian Cheng, Executive Vice-chairman and General Manager of NWD, had long held the idea of completely renovating and updating the Tsim Tsa Tsui waterfront, as a part of his larger urban revitalisation of Victoria Dockside and the surrounding community.
Prior to its renovation, the Avenue of Stars was often crowded and lacked good seating, shade, lighting, and greenery. Corner described the avenue as “undoubtedly an iconic part of Hong Kong” and admitted there was “a certain level of pressure involved” in elevating the area to the level of other famous waterfronts of the world. But, he says, it was “a challenge we were all ready to tackle!”
Corner added 50 percent more seating, eight times more greenery, more shading and a host of high-technology features. Hong Kongers and visitors to the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ are now welcomed to the iconic harbour front with sculptural walls of greenery along Salisbury Road. A central lawn and rows of trees lead guests down to the harbour’s edge. Four trellises with vertical planting offer shade and reduce heat along the walkway.
The harbour-side platform drops down toward the water dramatically. Loads of water-facing tiered seating means there are plenty of opportunities to take in the stunning skyline of skyscrapers and green mountains or the city’s famous firework displays.
Corner used sustainably sourced durable materials for a minimalist structure that limits maintenance. Light-coloured paving facing the harbour reduces heat. The promenade’s kiosks feature pleated metal sheets with facades alternatively coated in mirrored surfaces and wood. “If you walk from one end to the other, you can see the transforming colours of the wavy surface, much like a movie animation,” Corner explains.
Corner worked with Spiers & Major lighting architects to create warm, subtle lighting that doesn’t detract from the dazzling skyline. Lighting concealed inside the promenade’s cladding gently illuminates water flowing beneath pedestrians after dark.
Like the original, Corner’s revamp pays homage to Hong Kong cinema – dubbed the Hollywood of the East. There are hand prints and statues of local celebrities including Cantopop diva Anita Mui and legendary actor Bruce Lee. The statues are no longer behind barriers making it easier for fans to take photos alongside their stars.
Corner’s revamped Avenue of Stars is the first outdoor space in Hong Kong to receive SITES Gold certification. (SITES is an internationally recognised sustainability certification program for sites with or without buildings such as national parks, school campuses and outdoor spaces.) Smart materials reduce energy consumption and the operational areas have been designed to reduce waste and encourage recycling. What’s more, it’s home to Hong Kong’s first-wave power energy generator.
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