Materiality of TOAT

From hiking website to online critic, people commented on the issue of concrete paving along hiking trail. Visual pollution and irreversible environmental damage, they say.
So, let’s try to create a conversation using Tung O Ancient as the starting point, and understand: why will we use concrete paving?
But first let’s understand our selected trail.
Tung O Ancient Trail is a trail framing the northern costal line of  Lantau Island. It has been a trail that the local villagers relied on to commute and visit different villages for trading. Unlike other ancient trails in the New Territories like Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail, it is still in use by the villagers today. The villagers is also eager to develop and expand thus there are construction of small scale village houses. 
From the previous 2 visits, we recorded different materiality along the trail at six points as shown on the map above.

Record and Analysis

From the record, it is seen that almost three fourths of the materials is made of concrete and the remaining is composed of barren soil and rock. The surface of concrete paving is flexible and able to solidify according to the site’s need. For example, since there’s a sudden slope around photo 3, the trail is indented to create friction so that users won’t fall down. 
Criteria\ Materials
After a brief analysis, we believe there are several points that make concrete attractive for builders and officials:
  •  Convenient (many sub-contractors in hk is capable to cement a path)
  • Large elderly community (elderly prefers to walk on smooth surface rather the rocky paths)
  • Stability (concrete is impermeable and has proper drainage channel like 2. And 4. thus won’t be unstable during rainy days)
We can see that concrete is a prevailing and effective solution to create new paths among hilly terrain, but should this practice be continued in light of the environmental damage it caused and the repulsion from the public? 
Please check out our next post “How walkable is this trail? #2” which will continue to talk on the issue and delve into the sustainable development of hiking trails in Hong Kong.



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