CUHK Study on Intellectuals’ Roles in Urban RenewalWins AESOP Best Published Paper Award 2015
Prof. Ng Mee-kam, Vice-Chairperson of the Department of Geography and Resource Management at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has won the ‘AESOP Best Published Paper Award 2015’ of The Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) for her paper ‘Intellectuals and the Production of Space in the Urban Renewal Process in Hong Kong and Taipei’. The paper analyzed the possible roles and limitations of different intellectuals in urban renewal by comparing cases in Hong Kong and Taipei and was published recently in the journal ‘Planning Theory & Practice’.
In the paper, Prof. Ng discussed the Graham and Peel Street Market case in Hong Kong and the Treasure Hill case in Taipei to analyze the roles and the influences of different intellectuals in the urban renewal plans for the districts. Graham and Peel Street Market was a famous street market in Hong Kong with more than 150 years of history. In 2007, the Urban Renewal Authority proposed renewing the market. However, it aroused the concerns of many civic organizations in Hong Kong. Treasure Hill in Taipei was originally an illegal settlement. In 1994, Taipei City government proposed an urban renewal plan. However, many civic organizations in Taipei opposed the plan.
Prof. Ng said there are two types of intellectuals working within and outside the government structure. The first type refers to those intellectuals who tend to maintain the government system whilst the second type refers to those intellectuals who tend to transform the government system. The intellectuals who tend to maintain the government system always support the government to implement urban renewal policies and they propose urban renewal plans with reference to their knowledge and authority. On the contrary, the intellectuals who tend to transform the government system usually have reservations about the original plans. They illustrate the special value of the districts to citizens and propose an alternative plan to achieve social justice and spatial justice.
By analyzing the influence of these two types of intellectuals in the Hong Kong and Taipei cases, Prof. Ng thinks that the intellectuals who tend to transform the government system play a vital role in urban renewal issues. They encourage the public to review the specific meaning of urban renewal through their academic researches and propose a new plan. Following the adoption of their plan, the spaces and the characteristics of the districts can be retained.
Prof. Ng said ‘Both Hong Kong and Taipei have experienced rapid urbanization over previous decades. To improve the living environment of the urban area, the governments have implemented various urban renewal plans. However, they have aroused public concern over conservation. The intellectuals in both cities have different views on these issues. By discussing the experience of these two cities, I hope to analyze the roles of the intellectuals inside and outside the government structure and help the governments understand the ways to cooperate and communicate with intellectuals.’
Prof. Ng Mee-kam is the Vice-Chairperson of the Department of Geography and Resource Management, the Director of the Urban Studies Programme, Associate Director of the Institute of Future Cities and the Hong Kong Institute of Asian Pacific Studies at CUHK. She is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, a fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners and academic advisor of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design. She has completed over 20 research projects and published widely on planning, governance and sustainability issues in Pacific Asia. Her publications have earned her six Hong Kong Institute of Planners’ Awards.