Public Space Learning Toolkit

This learning toolkit provides you with guidelines on how and where to look for relevant information about public space in Hong Kong. To learn more about the concept of public space, you can also read our suggested introductory materials.

Hong Kong Planning Guidelines

The Hong Kong Government provides guidelines on designing public spaces.

Hong Kong Planning Department

Hong Kong Planning Department has published guidelines for our city planning and design. It includes guidance on how different types of public space should be planned and how the public realm can be encouraged. See Ch 4 Recreation, Open Space & Greening and Ch 11 Urban Design Guidelines.

Development Bureau

Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) are those that are open to the public but provided and managed by private interests. While POPS can be a reserve of public space in a densely developed city, the ambiguity of private and public interests has triggered public concern. In Hong Kong, the Development Bureau has published guidelines in response to the issue concerned.

Hong Kong Public Space Archives

Public Spaces emerge in different forms in the city. Government departments provide lists and information of the different types of public spaces for the public to access.

Hong Kong Public Space Initiative

  • Hong Kong Public Space Directory
    Our Public Space Directory draw together profiles of public spaces both managed by the government and private institutions.

If you require more in-depth information about public spaces, you can visit the following government websites:

Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD)

  • Parks and Gardens
    Park and garden is a very common form of public space in Hong Kong. LCSD is responsible for the management of most parks and gardens in Hong Kong. The website lists all the parks, zoos and gardens which are under its management.
  • Public Pleasure Grounds
    For the sake of public health, smoking is not allowed in most of the public pleasure grounds under LCSD’s management, with some exceptions. The above link lists out the public pleasure grounds in which smoking is allowed or where smoking area is provided.
  • Other Leisure Facilities
    The above link provides the information of other types of public leisure facilities

Lands Department

Buildings Department

  • Areas within private properties dedicated for public use
    The list of privately owned facilities for public use provided under Deeds of Dedication contains around 330 private developments. Managed by the Buildings Department, the list is updated from time to time to include new developments when their Occupation Permits are issued.

Transport Department

  • Pedestrianization
    Street is another common kind of public space. Transport Department has designated some of the streets and roads as pedestrian streets to improve their walkability. The above link provides an introduction to the existing and proposed Pedestrian Schemes.

Academic References

The following resources are recommended for you if you are interested in learning more about the theories and concepts of public space.


  • The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.
    Whyte, W.H. (1980); Michigan: Edwards Brothers.

    It is a classic book based on “The Street Life Project” carried out by Whyte in New York City in the 1970s.It includes detailed discussion on different elements in public spaces and their relationships with the people using public spaces.
  • Reclaiming Hong Kong’s Public Space.
    Tieben, H., Wang, H. S., You, M. (2010); Hong Kong: School of Architect, CUHK.

    It introduces the brief history of Hong Kong’s public spaces and uses from an architectural perspective, with a focus on the waterfront project.
  • Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience.
    Kayden, J. S. (2000); New York: John Wiley.

    The book analyses the uses of privately owned public spaces in New York City and provides details of almost all privately owned public spaces in the city.

TV Documentary

  • Whose public spaces are these? (Hong Kong Connection) (in Chinese)
    RTHK produced a TV documentary on the usage and conflicts related to the privately owned public spaces in Hong Kong.


There are a number of well-established overseas non-profit organizations and research institutes that work on public space issues. It is worthwhile to learn from their experience and research for critical thinking and a more holistic view of the concept.

Project for Public Spaces (USA)

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Their pioneering placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places. Since its inauguration in 1975, PPS has completed projects in over 2500 communities in 40 countries and all 50 US states. Training more than 10,000 people every year, PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools and inspiration about placemaking.

OPENSpace Research Centre (UK)

Based in Edinburgh, UK, OPENspace is an international research centre contributing new evidence on why inclusive access to the outdoors matters. It bridges academia, policy and practice, underpinning exemplary professional and community placemaking with a rigorous evidence base. It has a track record for innovative research, grounded in a sound theoretical framework, and for establishing new methodologies and directions for the future.

European Prize for Urban Public Space (Spain)

The European Prize for Urban Public Space is an initiative of the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB). It was established in 1999 to offer testimony to the process of rehabilitation of public spaces that has been occurring in many European cities. The aim of the Prize is to recognize and foster the public character of urban spaces and their capacity for fostering social cohesion.