WIT Press

Urban Compactness And Its Progress Towards Sustainability: The Hong Kong Scenario


Free (open access)








390 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


S. B. A. Coorey & S. S. Y Lau


A significant development pattern emerging in Hong Kong and many Asian cities today is the compact urban form which is an alternative to urban sprawl. It implies intensification, high density and mixed uses as opposed to low density, mono use urban sprawl. Within such a definition the compact city has caught the attention of many professionals as having a potential for achieving sustainability. But as pointed out by many researchers, the compact city has its positive and negative implications on sustainability. Positive implications are conservation of the countryside, reduced needs to travel by car, reduction in the use of fuel and pollution, the support of public transport, walking and cycling, better access to services, efficient utility and infrastructure provisions and revitalization and regeneration of urban areas. The negative implications are poor environmental quality, crowding, social acceptability, the lack of urban greenery, open spaces, and privacy, effect of urban form on ecology, wildlife, natural resources, and economic well being. Although compactness is supported as a sustainable urban form, there is limited empirical evidence to support such a contention therefore the methods for measuring such developments and the success or failure of particular initiatives are crucial in order to justify its progress towards sustainability. In this paper compactness is discussed in terms of its quantitative and qualitative attributes. The quantitative attributes are density, intensity, mix use, scale, grain and permeability. The qualitative attributes are diversity, vitality and viability. These attributes will then be discussed taking a case study in Hong Kong. As sustainability is a vast and complex area of study, this paper is limited to selected implications on sustainability as highlighted in the theoretical framework. Keywords: compact, urban, density, intensity, mix use, scale, diversity, open space, sustainability, Hong Kong.


compact, urban, density, intensity, mix use, scale, diversity, open space, sustainability, Hong Kong.