Owned by Link, the rooftop of the Lok Wah South Car Park is adorned with uniquely decorated light-bluish walls with series of concentric circle on each wall. The structure made famous by the South Korean boy band GOT7 who shot their music video there a few years ago, was given the name “Time Tunnel”. To upgrade the facilities, Link’s Project Together, together with the Department of Architecture, Interior & Product Design at the Hong Kong Design Institute, and Link’s contractors, jointly held a design competition to prepare for a makeover of this check-in hotspot.
For the competition, a total of 31 first-year students from the higher diploma in landscape architecture programme at the Design Institute have been split into eight groups since the end of last year. Each group was asked to submit a placemaking plan aimed at upgrading the architectural landscape for the Lok Wah South Car Park rooftop. After a series of research into the history, on-the-ground study, and interviews with tenants and residents, the students combined them with their course materials into proposals which were presented to the judging panel in May. The team that uses “Chinese Happy Chess” as the theme won the competition and an award ceremony was held in early June.
Chinese Happy Chess = Health and Happiness
Lau Ka-yee, a member of the winning team, said: “Our plan was inspired by an interview with a stationery shop on the second floor of the Lok Wah Commercial Centre. We met an elderly who brought his grandkids there looking for the chess game sets. It reminded us that Hong Kong has yet to have an outdoor area that uses “Chinese Happy Chess” as the theme. The chess was a popular game in 1970s to 1980s, which is the period that Lok Wah Estate was built. It matches the meaning of the estate. By adding the colorful design elements and the game rules to the placemaking and greening of the carpark’s rooftop, we hope to transform this space and bring a bit of joy and wellbeing back to the people of Hong Kong after going through the pandemic for more than a year.”
The first runner-up, with “Integrate into Lok Wah” as the theme, suggests using multi-color Dichroic glass as puzzles to redecorate the area. Team member Chung Shuk-lam said: “The rooftop area is very spacious. The sun shines on the multi-color glass from dawn to dusk, east to west, reflecting different shades of light. It creates different effects at different times of the day, which signifies our belief that difference races, cultures and viewpoints can live together in harmony.”
The competition has an eight-member judging panel, which include Kevin So Koon-chung, District Councilor for Lok Wah South, as well as representatives from the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, Link’s contractor partners, Design Institute, and Link. Evaluation criteria was based on five areas: creativity, functionality, aesthetics, buildability, and oral presentation. They had to select the winner, first runner-up, second runner-up and three merit awards recipients, with the prize ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
Student Proposals Combine Creativity with Practicality
The proposals submitted by other teams were also highly diversified. For example, one used carps as the theme, while another suggested adding flea market elements. Iris Hoi, President of The Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, said: “The works of the students show that they’ve adopted care for-people approaches and have tried to think from the perspectives of the residents of Lok Wah Estate. They also put forth many suggestions to help improve the space.”
Vega Shang, Lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Interior and Product Design at the Design Institute who’s also responsible for guiding the students, said: “Despite the pandemic, students went on site to collect first-hand information. It is not easy for them to grasp the knowledges of planting and design concepts, as well as to acquire skills such as computer graphics, architecture modeling production and virtual reality knowledges in just few months’ time.” Daniel Chan, another member of the judging panel and the Head of Department of Architecture, Interior and Product Design at the Hong Kong Design Institute, is pleased with the students’ overall performance: “They know that there’s a chance Link and the contractors may choose their works to be used for Lok Wah South’s future placemaking plan. This is a valuable opportunity and that’s why they’re taking it very seriously.”
Internship Opportunities for Students
Keith Chan, Senior Project Manager at Link, revealed that the company would combine the strength of all eight proposals by the students, as it begins planning for the placemaking construction works of the Lok Wah South Car Park in the second half of this year. They wish to turn this outdoor area into a hangout spot for the community and help revitalise the district. “This year we have also reserved three quotas in our summer internship programme for the students participating in this competition. We hope they will be given the opportunities to take part in this enhancement project.”