Hong Kong’s Retail TetrisBy Julia LevittThursday, May 12, 2011 6:41 am
I see Hong Kong as a model of smart growth management and land use planning. It’s a city were policy dictates that development must concentrate on only 25% of the land area, with the remaining 75% preserved as open space. This policy ensures that the region’s lush green spaces remain intact. It also maintains scarcity and high land values in developable areas. This is crucial to the local government because its primary source of income is land leasing.
Looking at development in Hong Kong through Western eyes, I noticed another impact of the city’s tightly concentrated density: the compact clustering of residential and working populations supports a diverse, competitive, and often ingenious retail community.
My first up-close encounter with the retail streetscape occurred in Tsim Sha Tsui, an upscale neighborhood on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbor (map). What struck me most was the extreme permeability at the pedestrian level. Few storefronts at the ground floor, save a handful of banks and higher-end boutiques, have full walls. Separated from the sidewalk by only a few inches of floor height, merchants do business in cheerful cubicle-sized spaces under fluorescent lights while people flow past, around, in and out. (link to article)
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mer O’Siochru is a qualified architect and valuation surveyor. She was a founder of Feasta and served on its executive committee for many years. She is director of EOS Future Design which designs and develops sustainable systems and settlements. She also manages the Feasta-led Smart Tax Network which is funded by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to develop tax policies in areas related to the environment. She lives in Dublin.