Asia/Pacific - Issue 125 - Magazine | Monocle

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Clear for take-off

Hong Kong — Sport & leisure

A scrappy plot of land that was once home to Hong Kong’s beloved Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon City will soon be occupied by the city’s largest sports complex. Kai Tak Sports Park is New World Development’s most ambitious and highly anticipated sports infrastructure project to date. A total budget of €3.3bn has been allocated towards constructing the harbour-front recreation space, which is set to be completed in 2023.

The most eye-catching structure within the 28-hectare park will be a 50,000-seat arena. The Hong Kong Rugby Union is already in discussions about how to use the stadium to elevate Hong Kong to a higher and more ambitious level when it comes to competing on the world stage, both on the field and as a host. “It’s about bringing sports to Hong Kong and making it the new sports capital of Asia,” says John Sharkey, project director of the park.

Yet Hong Kongers need not be on the path to global sporting stardom to enjoy the park’s many facilities: ordinary folks are invited to run, jump and play at any of the park’s public indoor and outdoor sports grounds. Those who prefer to take things more slowly can enjoy the precinct’s tai-chi zones and sculpture trails. For those with a completely different set of priorities, a section of the park will also contain a generous array of retail and dining spaces.

Kai Tak Sports Park is a much-needed addition to the city’s dense and populous Kowloon side, which still lacks public parks and accessible outdoor-sports facilities. Designers have also taken a green initiative by erecting new cycling tracks and electric-vehicle charging stations along the perimeter of the precinct in order to encourage more eco-friendly travel.

Rapid transit

Singapore — Transport

As transport solutions go, buses may not be the sexiest option but they’re the most efficient way of getting people cheaply from A to B (it’s the ultimate in ride-sharing after all). So it makes sense that Singapore is exploring how to make its city buses even speedier.

In May the city’s Land Transport Authority (lta) announced plans to introduce more “transit priority corridors” throughout the city, with the possibility of making some streets bus-only routes. In the case of the North-South Corridor – a 21.5km route from the district of Woodlands to the city centre, set to be completed by 2026 – the bus-only lanes will shave up to 15 minutes off travel times.

Space is at a premium in Singapore so bus-only streets might seem an extravagance the city can’t afford. But if the city wants to decrease the number of cars on the road, a speedier bus service could do the trick.

Senior service

Japan — Transport

Driving is vital to life in many mid-sized Japanese cities, which is why Utsunomiya near Tokyo has a problem. Its elderly population is set to swell from a quarter of the 520,000 residents to a third by 2050 – but seniors often don’t have driving licences and there are few public-transport options. So the city is moving ahead with a ¥46bn (€379m) light-rail transit (LRT) network, made by Niigata Transys and due to launch in 2022, to connect its Shinkansen railway station to bus stops, schools and commercial districts. Officials are counting on it to ease traffic, encourage businesses to relocate nearer to the city centre and keep older citizens mobile.

Good business

Perth — Urbanism

A slump in Perth’s mining boom has left it to languish with the highest commercial-property vacancy rate in Australia. Activate Perth, a not-for-profit association, is working to turn things around through an initiative called Fill This Space. Using a au$100,000 (€62,000) grant from the city of Perth, the association matches property owners who are keen to populate their empty buildings with fledgling businesses that can trial their concepts without having to cough up rent. Having a temporary initiative in a vacant space serves the property owners, the entrepreneurs and the community at large. “When a space is filled there’s a job created,” says Di Bain, chair of Activate Perth. “This brings a vibe and attracts people, which creates commerce and makes the streets feel safer.”

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