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Hull Old Town Urban Regeneration

Part 2 Project 2001
Chai Wee Ng
University of Lincoln, UK
The site is located in the old town district of Hull, the city council requested a masterplan proposal from Terry Farrell, their intention is to retain existing buildings and the street pattern but develop the empty spaces in the existing blocks. They also propose to divert the A63 high way onto a 4km bridge over the waterfront and convert the existing road into a local service road with street planting.

Throughout a process of analysis, the site illustrated a unique series of features such as alleyways, old shopping streets, arcades, historical shipping docks, historical landmark buildings and existing spaces within the old block. There is great potential for developing these existing features into a more pleasant urban fabric.

The A63 high way is important as part of the E20 corridor but is well recognised as the biggest problem in Hull because it creates a barrier to pedestrian access between the old town city centre and the waterfront.

My response to this is to elevate the existing road with a bridge, that would create access below and the bridge platform could act as a roof for the space underneath it. Utilising all the possible space provides a viable economic solution.

Chai Wee Ng

As a student and as a practitioner, Chai is and will be tenacious, thorough and unafraid, exhibiting a professional courage at odds with his quiet demeanour.

While the scale of his proposals for the devastated area of Hull where the A63 cuts through the Old Town may have more in common with ambitious European or Asian schemes than with the timid tinkering usual in the UK, the clear propriety of his response in contrast to other proposals for this area mocks that timidity. As with many decaying English towns, while the "decent" parts of middle-class Hull may aspire to the traditional qualities of English towns evoked by Gordon Cullen and parts of the urban centre retain echoes of a European city, the truly grim parts of Hull cannot be rescued by similarly small and pretty gestures.

Chai has tackled one of the worst urban problems in this city head-on with a bold and dramatic solution to the common problem of through-traffic fragmenting and destroying both the town centre and its adjoining areas without buying into the usual academic delusion of banning the car from a city which depends on it. His position may be unfashionable, but it is certainly brave.

He has also sought to weave his megastructure into the traditional fabric of the old town at ground floor level, working above on an industrial scale which recalls the faded grandeur of the docks and railways that built Hull and below with the more conventional tools of urban design. Ambition with a conscience, perhaps.

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