Costly brick wall art installation marking 20th anniversary of handover demolished after 2 months

Art installation “Safe Wall” being destroyed. Photo via Facebook.
Art installation “Safe Wall” being destroyed. Photo via Facebook.

A commemorative public “art installation” that cost HK$850,000 (US$108,000) and was expected to be on display for a year is being torn down after just two months because it frustrated motorists and freaked out old people.

Located on a traffic island in Kwai Fong — a largely residential area in Kwai Tsing district — the display known as “Safe Island” was among winners of a public art competition held last year to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China, reported HK01.

Its designers envisioned turning the traffic island into a “lively landscape” where people could “sit, gather and meet” and have a “more pleasant experience” crossing the road.

The result — effectively a pile of bricks with potted plants in the shape of a hillside — clearly missed the mark, not least because the “do not climb” sign attached likely dissuaded pedestrians from either sitting or meeting.

Also, who meets on a traffic island?

Sign on Kwai Fong’s “Safe Island” with the words “please do not climb” at the bottom. Photo via Facebook.

Anyhow, after receiving a litany of complaints about the piece, the Development Bureau, which paid for the project, decided in April to remove it, wrote Stand News.

Workers this week began fencing off the area and taking to Safe Island with a sledgehammer.

According to the reports, motorists had criticized the display for obstructing the view of the intersection joining Hing Ning and Hing Fong roads.

Democratic Party district councillor Ng Kim-sing, meanwhile, said he had received complaints, mostly from elderly residents who were uncomfortable walking past “Safe Island” because they thought it resembled one of the city’s hillside cemeteries.

What Kwai Fong’s Safe Island looks like from a distance. Photo via Facebook.

It’s unclear when exactly the sculpture opened to the public, though the Development Bureau had intended to display it for at least year.

Ng — who noticed its existence in April after receiving complaints — criticized the Development Bureau for not consulting the district council first.

In case you’re wondering, Safe Island was among nine winning art installations from the handover commemoration competition, the judging panel of which included representative from the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and the Hong Institute of Planners.

The total cost of the projects came up to about HK$7.6 million (US$969,000).

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