Eco-destination on Lamma Island
Eco-destination on Lamma Island
Lamma Island is the third largest outlying island in Hong Kong, and is characterised by its low-rise and low-density residential and tourism establishments. Our Project Site is located in a typical rural area in southern part of the island with three villages in the vicinity, namely Tung O Village, Yung Shue Ha Village and Mo Tat Village. These villages, once had around 500 villagers but now have only a few and mainly aged residents with the exception of Mo Tat New Village.The objective of the Project is to build an Eco-Destination in the form of a small seaside township comprising a low rise residential community, a resort hotel , a town centre market place and a Marina that address the dire lack of yacht berthing in Hong Kong and to grasp the opportunity arising from rapid growth of international yachting activities in Asia. The Project aims to preserve the natural environment of Lamma Island while at the same time revitalise the local economy with eco-tourism, eco-education and recreational activities The Project is a sustainability-oriented development, proposing the implementation of numerous environmentally-friendly infrastructures such as facilities to utilise renewable energies, minimise consumption of fresh water and maximise waste recycling and reuse.
“Outside the Box” Approach
Traditional development approach for project of this nature is to “clear and compensate”. However, this might means wholly or partially damaging the existing habitats and ecological system, only to be compensated afterwards. Sometimes, the original owners/occupants of the land will need to be evicted. This has often given rise to conflicts/confrontations between the developers and the conservationists.
From the baseline ecological survey of our site and its environ, it is clear that significant portion of the abandoned agricultural land (AGR), which comprise most of the site, had evolved into secondary woodland with abundance of flora and fauna species, and so were the perennial streams within the area. On the other hand, the lands zoned in the Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) as Conservation Area (CA) and Coastal Protection Area (CPA), show two types of distinctive habitat. Portions of CA and CPA near the foot of hill slopes and in the valleys have lush growth of secondary woodland and tall shrubland while further uphill they are mainly covered by grassland and low shrubland. Although there is no “stated” ecological value attached to the AGR land, in this particular site they have in fact become home to more flora and fauna species than the grassland and shrubland on the CA and CPA higher up on the slope. If our emphasis is to preserve the local biodiversity, it would seems logical, therefore, that one should preserve the secondary woodland on the agricultural land and build on the grassland and shrubland on either side irrespective of their current zoning.
The advantages of this “outside the box” approach are that the valuable habitats are preserved in-situ and so are the old villages. Disturbance to existing flora and fauna species are minimal and so are the villagers as none of them will need to be evicted to make way for the proposed development. In so doing, we create a about 19.5 ha size Conservation Corridor to protect the natural habitats and make resources available for active conservation measures by a dedicated team to address habitat degradation due to uncontrolled incompatible uses, hill fires, activities and invasion by foreign species which is actually fast damaging the existing ecological system.
Location Map of the Project
In the master planning, consideration has also been made to avoid habitat fragmentation. First of all, the development is kept away from the coastal zone so that there is un-interrupted connection from the Conservation Corridor to coastal and inter-tidal habitats through underneath the bridges and elevated roads along the coast. Secondly, the Conservation Corridor is extended on the north to link up with dense vegetation developed there. Thirdly, the residential development is now in three separate clusters allowing wider and more natural connection from the Conservation Corridor to adjoining natural habitats to the east, north and west.
On the marina side, adjustment to the general layout was made when Amphioxus was found at the narrow sand strip between the rocky shore and the silty clay seabed. We moved the deck portion of the marina away from the sand strip with only the bridge connection to the landside crossing the strip. As a result, the marina structure is placed further away from the shoreline, and makes it possible to conceive another “Conservation Corridor in the sea” along the coastal line to preserve the corals and marine species found on the rocky shoreline as well as the sandy seabed, for educational/research purposes.
When a Breakwater is More Than Just a Breakwater
As a matter of fact, the proposed breakwater and the marina related structures will become a significant “artificial reef” on the otherwise silty mud seabed. Researches had proven that such artificial reef is very effective in enhancing marine ecology and fishery resources. A local example is the East Dam of High Island Reservoir. The “double layered breakwater” also offers more hard surfaces, compared with traditional ones, for coral, mollusks and other benthic marine organisms to develop communities which in turn offers fisheries shelter and food sources. Together with the no-fishing rules and strict water quality management within the marina basin according to international standards, such as the Blue Flag or the Gold Anchors, we expect a thriving marine ecological system to develop within and around the marina basin and the breakwater and an increase in fishery resources in the southern Lamma water area generally.
Artist’s Impression of the Marina and Double Breakwater
Not only that but the water body in-between the innovative “double layered breakwater” and within the marina basin are protected from strong wave action except under extreme weather conditions, hence, are suitable for underwater exploration, education and researches. In other words, the marina and the breakwater now become additional marine ecology resources.
A Seaside Town for All
We have introduced the concept of an Eco-destination that is open to the public. The marina is designed as a small seaside town that has shops, restaurants, show rooms, boutique hotel, clinic and other communal facilities that serve not only occupants of the proposed development and marina but also residents of the three nearby villages as well as those of Sok Kwu Wan. There will be a public pier for use by visiting vessels and licensed ferry operators other than the development’s own. There will be berthing facilities for visiting yachts from other clubs and from overseas. A Sailing Academy will be established to train aspiring and talented athletes, drawing expertise and support from the yacht club but otherwise is an independent public facility to promote sailing as a sport in Hong Kong. The Yacht Club is the only private premise for members and their guests. Other than that, more than 70% of the deck area at the marina and the breakwater is open to the public with ample space for community events, local festivals (like the Bun Festival of Cheung Chau) and other activities. The marina, which has 500 berths and essential support facilities, is capable of hosting international regatta event as well as boat shows.
The Marina is Designed as a Small Seaside Town
Blending into Natural Landscape
To alleviate the concern about the visual impact on the existing landscape, the residential buildings are reduced to three storeys high. In addition, our Consultant, the Danish Architect BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, proposed a simple and effective way to blend the buildings into the natural landscape. Their concept was to follow the existing terrain with small stepped terraces generally following the existing topography and contour, on which the buildings are sit but stepping back on each level. In this way, the general “profile” of the hill slope is not materially altered. Together with suitable landscaping and choice of material and colour, the buildings can actually become “invisible” if so desired.
Blending the Buildings into the Natural Landscape
An Eco-Destination for All
The development has preserved the coastal area for the enjoyment by the public. The proposed viewing gallery at the highest knoll along the coast adopted a spiral design that integrates the access ramp and viewing deck naturally into the existing slope. As for the hotel, it was purposely placed half way up the slope of the headland to keep clear of the existing prominent and characteristic rock face lower down the slope. The marina is also sited at a considerable distance from the rocky shoreline thus preserving the integrity of this prominent coastal feature of Lamma Island.
As mentioned above, the Conservation Corridor on land has been increased in size to nearly 19.5ha and there is potential to include the coastal strip. Together, they can form a major eco-education, eco-tourism, experimentation and research facilities for the benefit of Hong Kong through the establishment of an independent agency or in the form of a Community Trust. Details of this will need to be worked out carefully in consultation with the stakeholders.
The waterfront plaza at the marina provides a focus for the “community” that will be evolved in the development. It is in essence the town centre and a market place. In scale with the island character, all the buildings in the town centre will be small and around four to five storeys high. They will provide spaces for shops, restaurants, offices, galleries, etc to ensure varieties and suitable for small businesses, which is essential to create the character for the place.
A Low Carbon Community
Not only do we spare no efforts in preserving the local biological diversity and cultural heritage, we are also planning a low carbon community. Ove Arup and Partners was appointed to develop an Integrated Sustainability Strategy for the whole development. In summary, it is proposed that three stage sewage treatment will be adopted and treated effluent will be reused for washing, irrigation and other suitable purpose and will not be discharged to the sea or the streams. Similarly, rainwater will be captured and reused to further reduce the reliance on fresh water supply. Renewable energies from the sun, sea and wind will be extensively captured and tri-generation will be adopted for district heating and cooling for the commercial area and the marina will utilise bio-diesel converted from waste kitchen oil generated within the development. Waste will be sorted for recycling, organic waste will be composted for fertiliser for organic farming and for other suitable uses. Energy consumption will be reduced in the first place by passive design and any mechanical means of transport will run on electricity or other clean energy. Pump-out services will be provided for yachts berthing at the marina and on-shore power supply will be provided to all yachts to eliminate the need for on-yacht power generation. Feasibility of turning waste into energy will be studied to deal with non-recyclable and inorganic waste as well as wasted oil from the yacht.
A Revitalised Community for the Locals and all Hong Kong People
There is skepticism about the development being for the rich only. The truth is that the development is accessible by public transport and there is a public pier as well as footpath system linking to other parts of Lamma Island. The town centre market place at the marina is public area and so is the coastal area which command beautiful view of southern Lamma. The Conservation Corridor will be open to the public who can participate in its diverse eco-education, exploration and agricultural programs. Other public facilities include the Visitors’ Centre at Yung Shue Ha converted from a restored old village compound and the Marine Ecology Centre at Tung O will run a program to bring back the green sea turtles. All the existing public foot paths remain public and it is proposed that the existing Tung O beach be nourished and upgraded to make it a safe public beach without water born debris being washed up. Villagers of Mo Tat, Yung Shue Ha and Tung O will enjoy the economic revival the development brings and will be well served by more efficient transport and communal facilities such as clinic, fire protection, police protection, etc. The development also creates thousands of direct and indirect employment for a large cross section of Hong Kong people.
Visitors can enjoy the panoramic view of the coastal promenade
via new roads and explore the densely vegetated Conservation Corridor
through existing footpaths