In densely populated Hong Kong, both the public and private sectors carry out planting programmes and spend on the maintenance of greenery in urban areas. Despite these efforts, there are still many bare areas along roads and pathways for walking and cycling.
Meanwhile, with all of the concerns about greening the city, there is little talk of the tenacious little flora that pops up in cracked sidewalks and neglected spaces. Wild plants (often self-seeding plants such as moss and fern) get a bad reputation, but they too, alongside their intentionally planted counterparts (such as ornamental plants), can help beautify Hong Kong’s urban landscape.
Gap Chung Wai Kin, a recent graduate of Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) at the University of Hong Kong, created this project to find out if unplanned/spontaneous vegetation can be a self-sustainable way to green the city.
ADVANTAGES OF USING SELF-SEEDERS
A ‘green block’ concept for planting self-seeders along walkways was proposed to cover more grey surfaces. Green blocks are basically wild plants placed in rectangular boxes, placed at the edges of pedestrian walkways. These blocks provide ecological linkage between nature and the city.
Like ornamental plants, wild plants help restore and protect existing habitats, reduce greenhouse effect, moderate soil erosion, increase slope stability, and support storm water management infrastructure. Moreover, wild plants have a high tolerance for harsh conditions and are less expensive to landscape and maintain. Through proper usage and management, wild plants provide substantive ecological benefits of traditional landscape plants and trees without the associated costs.
Community involvement is also important for a project like this to succeed. Greening programmes need to be carried out to change people’s negative mindset about wild plants and educate them about sustainable greening methods. Application guidelines on how to manage green blocks and self-seeding plants also need to be taught to the community.
This project has gained media and industry attention for its distinctive Green solution. It has won several awards, including third place in FuturArc Prize 2016 Student Category and Full-Brain Innovator of Design NextGen Awards 2016 by the Hong Kong Designers Association.
School: Division of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
Thesis Supervisor: Matthew Pryor
Project Name: Unplanned Green Block for Self-Seeding Plants: An Alternative Way to Green the City
Location: Hong Kong
Images/photos: Chung Wai Kin, Gap