The Sheung Wan Fiesta
Walk DVRC Ltd. realizes that the pedestrianisation of DVRC must be carried out in phases. As a model and proof-of-concept, Walk DVRC has proposed a placemaking opportunity called the Sheung Wan Fiesta (SWF). This project will close a two-block stretch of DVRC, from Western Market to Hillier Street (including the Sheung Wan Promenade), to vehicular traffic for 90 days (proposed for September 2020 – November 2020). Beneficiaries will be the community at large as the Fiesta is intended to promote health and wellbeing through vehicle emission reduction and encouraging walking, as well as demonstrating how a public space can welcome numerous population demographics through outdoor shading and seating. An educational children’s element will highlight how indigenous plants and herbs are used in Chinese cooking and medicine. The closure will be a programmed and curated event that includes examples of sitting out and greening, sustainable street furniture, local performances and a local food and craft beer market.
This event is not a carnival. As there are no residential buildings, hence no captive audience, programming on the weekends is necessary to attract interest to the area. Recent market research conducted by the Nielsen Company demonstrates a high level of support and enthusiasm for the project from the Affected Businesses in the area. (Appendix A). Additionally, an independent research report was published by Colliers International entitled “Challenging Hong Kong’s Retail Competitiveness.” The report highlights the importance of pedestrian zones to the future development of cities and specifically cites the Sheung Wan Fiesta project as “a great way of warming residents and businesses to the new concept.” (Appendix B)
Alignment with Government’s Policy Goals
The SWF addresses a number of walkability and liveability goals:
- Improves walkability and the pedestrian environment
- Improves air quality
- Encourages tourism
- Facilitates arts, culture and heritage conservation
- Creates elderly and disabled friendly public open space
Benefits a wide group of stakeholders
Main Benefits from the SWF
- Promotes local retailers and historic traders
- Showcases local heritage and culture through food/beverage and performance offerings
- Shows the possibility of an inclusive placemaking effort where people of all ages can profit from car-free areas
- Brands the Central Business District as a destination, especially for office workers along DVRC and for tourists
- Closes the cultural loop by linking DVRC to the cultural and historical sites that surround it, i.e., Tai Kwun, PMQ, Man Mo Tample, Western and Central Markets, dried goods vendors
- Serves as the initial phase in a greater placemaking effort to revitalize a decaying Central Business District
Target Beneficiaries: The SWF will benefit the general population of Hong Kong. In addition to specific groups will profit from the initiative:
- Shopkeepers and retailers in the proposed area: increase in footfall = increase in revenue
- Elderly: access to shade, sitting out areas; bringing them into the neighbourhood (alleviating loneliness)
- Children: educational opportunities to experience indigenous “greening” through the showcasing of local Chinese plants used in medicine and cooking
- Office workers along DVRC: public open space in which to rest, have lunch and enjoy a less polluted road
- Tourists: project will specifically attract “green” and “experiential” tourist segments who want access to local heritage and customs
- Population that would not normally frequent DVRC: DVRC is not currently viewed as a destination, but rather as a transport artery that is an uncomfortable and unpleasant pedestrian experience. The SWF will attract people who want to see how neighbourhoods and public open spaces can be vibrant spots in an urban-dense area
In respect of its Sheung Wan Fiesta (SWF) proposal, Walk DVRC Ltd. has been asked to address three concerns.
(i) Traffic –A formal Traffic Impact Assessment has been completed by MVA and submitted to the Transport Department, bus companies, Police and Fire Services (Link to full proposal-revised)
(ii) Street Management – details of how this issue is being addressed are outlined below
(iii) Programmes and Events – details of proposed curation in specific sections of the SWF area are elaborated below
A large number of measures and precautions have been put in to place to ensure that the SWF is safe, inclusive to a number of population demographics, such as the elderly and children, as well as providing an interesting and comfortable environment for the general public.
(i) Market Research – Walk DVRC Ltd. has worked closely with Civic Exchange in the production of its recent research report, “Managing Vibrant Streets” (https://civic-exchange.org/report/managing-vibrant-streets/), which identifies the problems and recommends solutions for the management of public open spaces. The challenge is to provide guidelines that must be adhered to for safety and nuisance reasons while still allowing the flexibility for a street to develop organically to meet the needs of its users. Current problems lie in two main areas: (i) outdated rules and regulations that have not kept pace with the way our society has developed technologically and (ii) silos in government over grey areas of responsibility when it comes to specific street management issues and enforcement such as busking, pop-up banners, use of sidewalks, etc.
(ii) Private Security – A private security company, Securitas (https://www.securitas.hk/), has been engaged to work with Police in enforcing the following event byelaws (which will be physically displayed):
No campaigning, occupying or distributing political information
No charitable collections
No peddling, vending or selling of goods or services; no pop-up banners
Performance and Noise
No busking, no unauthorized performers or performances, no amplifiers or microphones
No reserved seating
No resting on public seating for more than two hours
No ball sports, skateboarding or rollerblading
Removal or damage of streetscape
No removing, displacing, damaging or altering of any street furniture, plant, shrub or tree
Securitas will also work to:
Provide event area security, crowd control and safety
- Prevent vandalism of event property
- Assist with crowd clearing of designated performance areas
- Assist with public emergency services in emergency situations
- Work with Police to create a peaceful, friendly and welcoming environment
- Provide basic information and directions in Chinese and English
Scope of service:
- 24-hour security guards (10 each day, including Public Holidays, for 90 days)
- Security command control booth
- Radio links between guards
(iii) Evacuation and Crowd Control Plan – Walk DVRC Ltd. has commissioned Magnetic Asia (http://www.magneticasia.com/) an event and entertainment solutions house, to produce a comprehensive Crowd Safety Synopsis and Emergency Evacuation Plan. (Appendix C). The plan details the management of various crowd scenarios including, freak weather, vehicular accident, gas leak/explosion, building issue (fire/collapse), overcrowding and public safety concerns. In addition, it details the management of the various crowd control components of the SWF: Security Staff, Main Event Area Marshals, Tram Marshals, City Block Marshals, Traffic Wardens and On-Site Management. These crowd control elements have been factored into the overall Manpower Plan (see below).
(iv) Technology – Walk DVRC Ltd. has partnered with Siemens (Mindsphere – digital data) https://siemens.mindsphere.io/en) who will provide services to enhance Street Management as well as Health and Wellbeing efforts. Siemens will provide a pilot big-data capture scheme. The primary goal of the digital pilot is to monitor roadside pollution through the use of sensors (and people and traffic volumes) for a period of one month prior to the commencement of the SWF (October) and one month after (February) to obtain data to analyse the effects of pedestrianisation on roadside pollution. In order to capture metrics from vehicle pollution during the time of the pedestrianisation, to enable realistic benchmarking, the monitoring boundaries areset between Western Market and Wing On Department store.
The secondary objective of the pilot is to monitor traffic and people counts for safety, crowd control and road management purposes. Walk DVRC is currently working on power solutions for the monitoring devices with HK Tramways.
(v) Informational Mobile App – iDiscover (https://i-discoverasia.com/) has been commissioned to produce a bi-lingual App containing the following information. Rules and regulations on the proper use of public open spaces and what is permissible at this event will be clearly detailed:
- Wayfinding; site layout, public toilet locations, access to free drinking water (Urban Spring Well# installations)
- Schedules; opening hours, indicative food menus and costs, performance content and times
- Storytelling; highlights of local businesses and shops, cultural sites of interest; places to explore
- Cultural & heritage walking tours: links DVRC to key historical sites in the surrounding area (Tai Kwun, PMQ, Man Mo Temple)
- Promotional opportunities; QR codes for discount coupons, retail announcements; games
- Rules and regulations of the Fiesta (above byelaws elaborated)
(vi) Public Relations – An international public relations firm, Sinclair (https://www.sinclaircomms.com/), an independent PR, social media and experiential agency, has been engaged to produce a large-scale SWF promotional campaign. A significant portion of the campaign will involve pre-event strategy aimed to educate the public regarding the creation and use of public open space for the benefit and enjoyment of the community. Community outreach activities will reinforce how public open spaces should be respected. In addition, Sinclair will use a number of channels to disseminate SWF information including media toolkits, bureau, partnerships and interviews; official event launch and walking tour; promotion of weekend programmes; stakeholder management plan; social media management (Facebook and Instagram); photography and video. The Hong Kong Tourism Commission has expressed interest in promoting the event internationally.
(vii) Manpower Plan – A detailed manpower plan, including management, contractors and volunteers has been produced to ensure the safety and smooth running of the event. (Appendix D)
(viii) HK Tramways – Walk DVRC Ltd. works closely with HK Tramways to collaborate on the SWF. Drivers will be instructed to reduce tram speeds in the SWF to 5 km/hr. Tramways has experience in many European cities that shows that there is no pedestrian/tram conflict when there are no barriers between those walking and the trams. Pedestrians look out for trams and trams look out for pedestrians. This works in placemaking initiatives around the world, where no barriers are needed to separate the two.