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Smog-Filled Sky Backs Artist’s Billboard Vision For Tamar

Dan Kadison – SCMP – Updated on Jul 06, 2008

A depiction of the completed Tamar government complex at the Central construction site shows the future buildings set against a hazy background – an unintentional reminder of concerns that the structures could add to the city’s pollution problem.

The image appears as part of a billboard for the Tamar Development Project, a HK$4.9 billion effort to erect new government headquarters by 2011.

Tamar architect Rocco Yim Suen-kee has contended that his “door” design is environmentally friendly with a focus on energy efficiency, green spaces and water conservation. But before construction even began on the complex, Clear the Air, a Hong Kong-based non-profit group, suggested the complex could hurt the city’s air quality.

The group has not budged from its position, saying the structures will not only draw in more vehicles, but will also trap exhaust by helping to create a “canyon” effect.

Asked about the new billboard, Clear the Air chairman Christian Masset replied: “It’s a reminder of the deterioration to come. We should go towards improvement, but with this project we go towards deterioration.”

The government disagreed, and offered its own explanation for the sign and its background.

“The Tamar Development Project has incorporated a large number of green features. When commissioned, the Central Government Complex of Tamar will be one of the greenest government buildings in Hong Kong,” according to a statement from a government spokesman.

“The design of the signboard is an artistic impression produced by our architect. The background is blurred so as to highlight the different components of the Tamar project – the Central Government Complex, the Legislative Council Complex and the green open space. There is no haze or `pollution’.”

A spokeswoman for the Gammon-Hip Hing joint venture – which was awarded the Tamar contract – concurred with the government, expressing the same sentiments about the purpose of the sign and touting the many environmental benefits of the project.

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