Hong Kong Part 1: Mixed-Use Urbanism

Here’s a picture I took in the Mong Kok neighborhood of Kowloon in Hong Kong. I’m standing on a second-story walkway that’s part of the Bird Market and Garden. Just across the street is the Mong Kok Soccer Stadium. You can see the Flower Market below. And above the Flower Market is apartments — several stories of them. Click the image for a larger view.

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All four of these uses appear to exist quite comfortably in a small space. How?

The only motor vehicles using the street below are delivery trucks and public transit because there’s nowhere to go and nowhere to park. This is key. No one is driving to the stadium. No one is driving to these markets. And no one is parking cars at the apartments. So there’s no need for surface parking — the very thing that spreads other things apart.

Providing surface parking would create exactly the kind of urban spread — the “missing teeth” in the smile of pedestrian-friendly urban design — that would make this mixed-use neighborhood impossible.

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