[SEMINAR] Deciphering Open Space
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Deciphering Open Space: Public, Private and Unimplemented Spaces in Hong Kong

Civic Exchange will be holding an afternoon seminar on 28 April about Public Open Space (POS), the subject of a long-term project that addresses parks and green space in Hong Kong neighbourhoods.

Planning researcher Carine Lai will untangle the definition of open space and discuss its distribution throughout Hong Kong, while landscape architect Gavin Coates will share his insights on how design can make the best use of limited open space in our urban environment. They will discuss strategies to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of Hong Kong's urban open space. 

This talk follows Civic Exchange’s recent publication of a major report, "Unopened Space: Mapping Equitable Availability of Open Space in Hong Kong", which  quantifies the disparities in open space between different districts and socio-economic groups. The 2017 report, which was made possible by crowdfunded donations from the Hong Kong public, gives recommendations on how to upgrade government planning standards, identifies neighbourhoods with the greatest shortfall of open space, and suggests strategies for improvement.

Date: Friday, 28 April 2017

Time: 3:00 – 5:30 pm

Venue: 21st Floor, Edinburgh Tower, The Landmark, Central

Civic Exchange thanks PricewaterhouseCoopers for sponsoring the venue and providing hospitality.


2:30 – 3:00           Registration and welcome

3:00 – 3:50           “Unopen Space: Mapping Equitable Availability of Open Space in Hong Kong.” Research  findings and recommendations.

By Carine Lai, Project Manager, WYNG Foundation

3:50 – 4:10           “Open Space, So What?” Qualitative design of urban open spaces under extreme spatial constraints.

By Gavin Coates, Senior Lecturer, Division of Landscape Architecture, HKU

4:10 – 4:55           Q&A and Closing

5:00 – 5:30           Refreshments and networking


Carine Lai, the lead researcher and author of the “Unopened Space” report, is now a project manager with a focus on urban planning research at The WYNG Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to empowering the community through knowledge. Carine was a project manager at Civic Exchange from 2010 to 2017, where she researched wellbeing in Asian cities, walkability, urban design, urban renewal and governance in Hong Kong. She holds a master's degree in urban planning from University College London and a bachelor's degree in political science and studio art from Tufts University. She will discuss her most recent findings.



Gavin Coates has worked as a landscape architect in Hong Kong for more than 30 years. From 2005 to 2015 he was involved with the design and site supervision of the Greening Master Plan programme instigated by the Civic Engineering and Development Department. He now serves as Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. He is also known as an illustrator, cartoonist and children’s book author. He will share his thoughts on how we design, manage, use and abuse Hong Kong's limited open space.

Photo credit - Carsten Schael




Paul Zimmerman, a native of the Netherlands, made Hong Kong his home in 1984. He is a Civic Exchange board director, an elected District Councillor, and the CEO of Designing Hong Kong, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting livability in Hong Kong. Paul has a Masters in Social Science (Economics) from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, and a Masters of Arts (Transport Policy and Planning) from The University of Hong Kong.





Seminar is free but registration is required.

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