Text by: Dick Chan
29 November 2021
Joe Lui is an architect and one of the directors of the Hong Kong Architecture Centre. He is currently busy organising exhibitions, lectures, workshops and guided tours on architecture and local culture for the Central Market through which he says. “We hope to promote the culture of architecture and life to the public through the public spaces in the Central Market.”

The fundamental definition of public open space is “an area where everyone, regardless of his or her background, can enter without pre-requisite”. It is similar in nature to “Recreational Space”. Joe believes that it can be defined from a macro perspective: “Before any urban planning development, the government will liaise with relevant departments such as the Development Bureau, to formulate space which is clearly defined as public space in use, such as parks, football fields, or leisure facilities. These spaces will be connected with traffic and resources for the public to use.”
Public spaces have the function of connecting society, allowing people to communicate with each other.
"Therefore, a park alone is not enough. This space has to be connected with the public, who will enjoy social life in it.” He cited a foreign example: “There are many sauna bathing houses in Finland, they are all located on the waterfront. One time when I was traveling to Helsinki, I visited the most iconic and internationally featured public saunas, Löyly. There are restaurants nearby. Many people visited it throughout the year. The locals would jump directly into the Baltic sea from the roof of the house after having sauna. I think this kind of adventurous and free life fully reflects the life and culture of the locals.”
Joe Lui, Director of Hong Kong Architecture Centre
Löyly Helsinki, a public sauna in Finland
Löyly Helsinki epitomises the concept of connecting public spaces with the public’s social life

Joe reiterated that whether the space can gather people is also an important factor:

“The essence of public space is to provide people with diversified use. Even in a densely-living place, diverse types of spaces will improve the quality of life of the locals. In fact, in a heavily populated city like Hong Kong, public open space can help reduce the visual density of the city, add more green elements and improve air circulation.”

(Left) There are a lot of green elements at the revitalised Central Market
  • Central Market raised walkway connection
  • Central Market's Oasis

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