Urbanie & Urbanus

Issue 2021 Dec


Issue 6, P.68 - P.78

Urban Regeneration-Is it possible for the environmental regeneration of Hong Kong to begin from Kau Yi Chau Island?

Laurent Gutierrez

BA, March, PhD, Professor and Course Director at MDes (Urban Environments Design), School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

and  Dr. Hee Sun (Sunny) Choi

BA MA PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor,
MDes (Urban Environments Design), School of Design,
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,
Director at Choi-Comer Asia Architecture and Urban Design


A Transitional Environment is a term recently used to describe a new form of hybrid space and habitat that has emerged within and around the contemporary city. During the last few decades in Hong Kong and China there has been an increased design focus on the distinct social, spatial, and economic characteristics and challenges that emerge in these spaces that sit both between the rural and the urban and the land and the sea. Now, a more holistic and regenerative perspective for urban design is under way, focusing on environments with an ecological mindset. Within the urban design and planning context of Hong Kong in particular, as an archipelago of islands attached to China’s mainland, these transitional environments include existing rural islands that are being adapted to and expanded as part of development proposals. These proposals tend to offer only a limited acknowledgement and engagement with their island or coastal locations and surrounding natural habitats, in favour of dense and environmentally unsustainable podium and tower schemes. With global challenges and specifically climate change and a growing number of threats to both the environment and our way of life there has been an increased focus on new approaches to problem solving that look to the natural world for solutions. This short paper includes case study projects from students at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the urban habitat island of Kau Yi Chau in Hong Kong. Supported by a review of relevant precedents and theories, this case study is used to discuss and reflect on the global and local issues and opportunities highlighted in the sustainable development goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations.