Public Design for Urban Areas: A Balance in Art and Function

By Kin Wai Michael Siu and Pak Hong Wan.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Existing urban development is expected to complement the nation’s economy, benefit people’s daily lives, and attract visitors. In urban areas, the quality of the design of the public environment and facilities has been of growing concern in recent years. On one hand, many policymakers, executives, and management parties focus their attention and effort on functional consideration. They consider art only as a kind of “decoration”. On the other hand, some designers and artists point out that the public environment and facilities should provide satisfactory aesthetic appeal to city users. However, many of these designers and artists do not consider the practical constraints of public design in that the design is required to serve the practical needs of city users with diverse needs and preferences. They only want to install some “art pieces” in cities to show their artistic talent yet these art pieces are unable to serve the daily needs of city users. Taking a case study of public design in Hong Kong, this paper advocates a balance between art and function in public design. Regarding the consideration of balance, this paper suggests the matters should be considered on three different levels: policy, implementation, and management.

Keywords: Public Design, Urban Areas, Art, Function, Balanced Consideration

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.59-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.168MB).

Prof. Kin Wai Michael Siu

Professor & Public Design Lab Leader, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Kin Wai Michael Siu is Professor and Leader of the Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has served the Hong Kong Government’s advisory committees and professional bodies as members. He owns more than 50 design patents in the United States, Chinese mainland, and other Asian countries. His research interests include design culture, public art and design, and user-environment interaction.

Pak Hong Wan

Research Associate and Member of the Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Pak Hong Wan is an industrial designer. He is also a research associate and member of Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His research interests include public space, streetscape and street furniture design. He is now participating in different street furniture design projects in Hong Kong collaborating with the Hong Kong government.


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