Architectural firm Foster & Partners have their stamp all over the Middle East: they had a hand in Masdar City, that ambitious carbon-neutral city plan that has turned into an embarrassment, and they are “greening” Jordan’s Queen Alia Airport. While we’re impressed with their designs, we’re less impressed with their environmental ethic. Unfortunately, not everyone shares our sentiment, which is why this firm has spread their tentacles all over the world to Amsterdam, South Korea, and now Hong Kong.
Kudos where its due
F&P recently won a competition to design the 56 acre West Kowloon cultural district in Hong Kong. And they definitely deserve some kudos:
In addition to building on reclaimed harbor-front, they have designed the district to be carbon-neutral. This will be achieved by linking the park with current transportation networks, and building walking paths and footbridges to encourage limited use of personal motor vehicles. The city will also install ferry lines and eco-minibuses through the city.
And they promise clever schemes such as energy efficient heating and cooling, renewable energy installations such as wind and solar, grey water recycling, recycling, energy recovery systems for sewage, and a waste to energy plant, according to Bridgette Meinhold.
“The entire district will be raised 3 meters above its current elevation to accommodate for new infrastructure below. Streets, parking, utilities and urban transport lines will mostly be located below to increase the size of the green and public spaces above,” writes Meinhold.
They will build a Great Opera House, a Modern Art Museum, and arts education facilities. Also included in this enclave of all things cultural will be apartments, offices, shops, and a 2km long waterfront promenade.
Everything in the park will be integrated and interconnected, making it a self-sustaining place to get a boost of inspiration. And we can’t fault either Hong Kong or F&P for creating such a wonderful, green space in an otherwise frenetic urban environment. But we do have to wonder, given the price tags of other F&P projects, what economic and environmental price will the rest of us pay for such splendor?
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