PLACES FROM THE PAST LOST IN NEW TOWNS: HONG KONG’S OLD VILLAGES

Terry van DIJK, S.Gerd WEITKAMP

Abstract


This article reports about what remains in New Towns from the site's former structures. We wanted to know whether NTs, despite being landmarks of modernistic drawing table cities, adopted pieces of their site’s history in their urban forms, in a growing awareness that historic structures add place distinctiveness.
Our study was prompted by two observations. The first was that the perspective on historic structures in Western planning practices has changed dramatically over the last decades, from a preservationist perspective on conserving particular buildings, to a practice of including the history of places as an asset in urban design. Original canals, main roads, street patterns and small settlements may be adopted to give new neighbourhoods a sense of authenticity and allow them to tell the story of the site's past. The second observation was that Asia has witnessed the emergence of mega cities and New Towns for more than a decade, and will probably continue to do so. As their urban expansion will inevitably cover landscapes with a past, in terms of villages, infrastructures and communities, the question rises if and how these histories are included in the urban design of such expanding Asian cities. We chose to analyse how in Hong Kong, with a long tradition of developing a total of 9 New Towns so far, old structures have been included in NT design. Based on historic maps, NT Masterplans and site visits, we show that in most of HK's NTs, the villages and towns that were on these sites have been preserved. The extent to which they are an asset to the surrounding NT today is low and did not increase over time.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4305/metu.jfa.2017.2.5

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