Here's a new town-planning concept for Hong Kong - MTR Corp's (0066) new residential district in Tseung Kwan O doesn't just have homes; it also incorporates a lifestyle.
The name of the project - LOHAS Park - makes it clear: LOHAS is an acronym for "lifestyle of health and sustainability." It is a combination of personal care and concern for the environment.
"People living here can lead a green life without compromising on quality of life," Steve Yiu Chin, MTRC chief manager for town planning, told The Standard in an interview.
"The place was already designated as an 'environmental protection city' when we began planning in 2002. But after the SARS epidemic in early 2003, we added a slight twist and included an element of 'health' as it is also very important to care for oneself."
Formerly Dream City, it will sit atop the MTR Tseung Kwan O South Station, to be operational in 2009, and just north of the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate. The district is a large project, Yiu said, and will accommodate 58,000 residents in the 3.55 million- square-feet site area.
Fifty residential towers will be erected, offering 21,500 apartments, or 36 percent more than Kingswood Villas in Tin Shui Wai, another large-scale development.
The park's key feature will be 1.4 million sq ft of common area with greenery taking up 40 percent area of the whole site, or twice as large as Hong Kong Park in Admiralty.
The common area will include a 200,000 sq ft park and a 330-meter promenade overlooking Victoria Harbour.
Although as many as 3,000 trees will be planted in the area, Yiu said, the exciting thing is not only the large proportion of green space, but the way these amenities are situated.
The planning will separate people and cars - pedestrians can walk to various facilities without having to cross a road since all the places are linked with covered walkways.
To encourage walking, distances between different facilities have been carefully calculated, "so that people won't get too tired walking."
Bicycles are also encouraged in the district. "Riders can begin at their own flat, enjoy a scenic ride along the promenade, then park their bikes outside the MTR station and take the train."
The garden will need no fresh water as the developer installed a 440,000-liter water-recyling system to collect rain and household waste water for the plants.
Yiu said the company is studying the feasibility of a kitchen waste processing system in its shopping mall, as an effort to live up to the development's promise of sustainability.
Unlike anything in the New Territories, Yiu pointed out, this projects enables residents to enjoy both a rural environment with lots of greenery but still have the convenience of city living as they will be close to the MTR.
If you are wondering just how "natural" the air ventilation can be in a densely built condominium project, Yiu said buildings will be left with sufficient space to allow wind to blow through. Although the development is not far away from landfill, appropriate town planning should avoid the problem of smell, Yiu said.
LOHAS Park will be divided into nine to 13 phases, which are to be completed between 2009 and 2015.
The first phase, Capitol, is situated on the east side of the project and has 1.38 million sq ft of floor area. Market sources said presale may start as soon as this week. Each of the 1,648 apartments will be sold at above HK$6,000 per sq ft.