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Making Our City a Better Place

Sustainable Space

Urban Escape by Design

The scope of landscape architecture is broader than one can imagine. From botany to fine art, architecture, industrial design, soil science and environmental psychology, landscape architecture is all about the integration between greening, the environment and urban living.

“Landscape architecture is human-centric. You have to understand, first off, the users’ wants and needs, and reflect them in the design,” says Albert Cheng, who founded the international Landscape Consultant firm Cohere Design. “Design is never simply a scheme but solutions for living. Needs in real life should be taken into account.”

In the past, Cheng explains, recreational facilities, event spaces and plazas were all that was required in a large-scale residential development. But that has changed: “Now it’s more about functionality,” he notes. “For example, in Chinachem Group’s Sol City development in Yuen Long, we interlaced a human-centric landscape design with functional spaces. A range of themed green spaces, from an aerobic exercise area to a children’s playground, yoga corner and tai chi garden, offers residents an idyllic escape amid the hustle and bustle.”

Another project of note is Shinsun Yinhu Phase 2 Sales Area, on the outskirts of Hangzhou, where Cohere Design balanced aesthetics with function. With its irregularly-shaped pool, coupled with a waterside pavilion that features a curtain of falling water, the design resembles a poetic scene in ancient China where one could find a pavilion along a calm and clear lake nestled in a mountain – a perfect spot to rest after a long walk. For another landscape design project, apart from recreational facilities, Cheng deliberately added public event spaces that serve as interactive platforms for exchanges among community groups to enliven the neighbourhood.
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Arts and Fun

City of Colour

When Elsa Jean de Dieu first arrived in Hong Kong in 2008, she says there was hardly any street art, but now mural paintings are found across the city.

“People are now asking for street art on the facade, they want colourful patterns and meaningful artwork,” she says.

Jean de Dieu has contributed to the street art scene by painting 16 murals around the city, including four live mural paintings for French May Arts Festival at the revitalised Central Market.

“I create a story and characters, and I connect with people passing by, it’s unique. That’s why I’m obsessed with painting smiley faces,” she says, referring to the fun portraits at Central Market. She says that Hong Kong streets are more colourful than ever and before the pandemic people visited the city specifically to see street art.

Street art has helped transform Hong Kong’s image as a business-focused metropolis into a nature- and art-oriented city. Street art is now found in different neighbourhoods across Hong Kong, making buildings a playground for artists who paint in different styles. Their work turns the streets into public galleries and makes art more accessible and easily appreciated.

They also beautify neighbourhoods with their funky designs and kaleidoscopic colours; they draw people in to check out the street art and post images on social media for others to see what they have discovered.

While Jean de Dieu says it’s cool to have more artists painting street art, they aren’t in competition with each other. Rather, they are focused on finding their own style which will make the city look more visually striking. She credits HKwalls for organising legal places to paint and inviting artists to participate.

What makes her work most rewarding are the reactions she gets from people as she is working. “I have very touching contact and conversations with people in the streets, like the cleaners who tap my shoulder and have a big smile, and taxi drivers and bus drivers give me the thumbs up. Because I bring joy, smiley faces, it’s like a huge wave of happiness around. It’s really amazing.”
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