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Civil Service Newsletter
July 2011 Issue No.81
Features
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  Our new clean,
green home – Tamar
 
  Always at the ready,
civil service offers assistance to citizens after Japan earthquake
 
  Stress counselling team deployed to Japan
 
  Support 2011 Population Census
 
  Activities commemorating centenary of China’s 1911 Revolution
   
Our new clean, green home – Tamar

Civil Service Newsletter Editorial Board

 
 
IT is often said that moving to a new home is one of the most traumatic events in life. It is also a very emotional event, as we recall old memories while packing or discarding precious possessions. The civil service family is no different, with many bureaus and main offices (B/Os) housed in various government buildings across the city for decades now facing relocation. The Director of Administration, Jennifer Mak, has been assigned the daunting task of relocating thousands of staff, records, furniture and equipment to the new headquarters at Tamar.
 
 
 
Tamar Development Project
Tamar Development Project.

 

“The idea of developing the Tamar site was first mooted in 2002,” says Miss Mak. “The Central Government Offices and Murray Building have been in operation for decades, which have made it extremely difficult for major alteration or refurbishment to be undertaken in an efficient and cost-effective manner to meet the modern days’ needs. Furthermore, as B/Os were outgrowing their existing premises and were scattered in different premises, it was recognised that a new central government complex was needed to bring B/Os together.”

However, in 2003 due to the impact of the SARS epidemic, the project idea was shelved after the Government reviewed its spending priorities. In 2005, the idea was relaunched and went before the Legislative Council (LegCo) for support and funding approval. In January 2008, the contract for the Tamar Development Project was signed and construction works began in February.

   

“The relocation will be undertaken in phases from July to December, 2011. Each B/O has indicated preferred dates for its move into Tamar,” says Miss Mak. “While we have tried to cater to the ongoing operational needs of various B/Os, logistics are still the overriding factor in the whole exercise. Allowing for staggered relocations will also minimise disruptions to those already accommodated in the new offices. There will be some 3,000 civil servants accommodated at Tamar.”

Miss Mak explains that having all B/Os located in one place has many advantages. The most obvious of these relates to better communication and operational efficiency. A centralised location also facilitates the co-use of basic facilities and negates the need for staff to waste time travelling across Hong Kong to meet with each other.

“I have heard concerns expressed by some who think the Tamar site is less convenient compared to Lower Albert Road in terms of accessing public transport and proximity to food and other retail outlets. However, I would simply say that we have done everything possible to cater to the needs of colleagues who will be based at Tamar,” says Miss Mak. “There will be footbridges directly connecting the Tamar site to the Admiralty hinterland and the public transport interchange. Colleagues can access the site easily by public transport including the Mass Transit Railway. As for concerns about food, apart from visiting the eating places in Admiralty, colleagues can also eat at the staff canteen in the new Central Government Offices or at the café in Tamar Park.”

 
 
The commemorative plaque at Main Wing - During excavation on the site of the East Wing in 1954, the contractor unearthed the foundation stone containing the bronze plaque bearing an inscription commemorating the foundation stone laying ceremony of the earlier Government Offices by Sir John Francis Davis on February 24, 1847. The bronze plaque was subsequently incorporated into the foundation stone of the existing Central Government Offices which is placed in the lobby of the Main Wing.
 
 

The first bureau is scheduled to move into Tamar at the end of July this year, so it is timely at this juncture to look back at where we have come from before looking at our new premises. Readers should also note that our upcoming move to Tamar is not the first time that the Government has had to address the issue of relocating and accommodating staff within one central complex.

A brief history of Government headquarters

Over the past 100-plus years, Central has been the political, religious and military heart of Hong Kong. The area around present-day Garden Road, Upper and Lower Albert Roads and Glenealy became known as “Government Hill”, where Government House, Government headquarters, St. John’s Cathedral and the former Murray Parade Ground were located.

 

Government Offices in around 1895
Government Offices in around 1895.

 

The foundation stone of the first Government headquarters was laid by the second Governor of Hong Kong, Sir John Francis Davis, on February 24, 1847. The offices, generally referred to as “Government Offices” were completed in 1848. Various departments, including that of the Colonial Secretary, moved into the new building.

After the Second World War, a decision was made to build a new Government headquarters to solve the problem of government departments scattered all over the territory and to reduce rental expenditure. Construction works began in 1951 and were completed in 1959. The new Government headquarters, named “Central Government Offices”, extended from Garden Road in the east to Ice House Street in the west, comprising the East Wing (completed in 1954), Main Wing and Legislative Council Chamber (completed in 1956) and West Wing (completed in 1959).

   
Miss Mak
Miss Mak sharing with readers her team’s experience in handling the Tamar Development Project and the arrangements made in facilitating B/Os for relocating to Tamar.

 

Miss Mak says that her team’s role in the Tamar Development Project has involved everything from securing support and funding from LegCo to making sure the project is completed on time within the approved budget, while also looking after the needs of all stakeholders and co-ordinating with those on the ground, such as the Architectural Services Department, which is the project manager, and the contractor. The team also interfaces with other departments involved in the project, including the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (information technology infrastructure), Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (electronic and telecommunications system), Leisure and Cultural Services Department (the Tamar Park), Planning Department (planning issues), Highways Department (pedestrian walkways) and Transport Department (traffic arrangements).

“I also chair the Steering Committee on Tamar with members from relevant departments to monitor the progress of the project on a regular basis. Other committees that cover the relocation exercise, car parking allocations, building management, and so on have also been set up,” says Miss Mak.

Design concept

Tamar’s design centres around four concepts. The first is “Door Always Open”, representing Hong Kong’s image as a city always open to new ideas and diverse cultures; the second is “Land Always Green”, representing our aspiration to inject greenery into Hong Kong; the third is “Sky Will Be Blue” – a commitment to promoting a less polluted future; and the fourth is “People Will Be Connected”, emphasising the connectivity of Tamar which will bring people to the area for enjoyment.

“Additional changes were also made after the project started,” says Miss Mak. “It has been a challenging task for us as we needed to obtain supplementary funding from LegCo and ensure the project continued to be completed according to the original schedule.”

 
 
The Burmese Rosewood at open compound - The Burmese rosewood in front of the Main Wing of the Central Government Offices has witnessed the changes of time for more than 160 years.
 
 

Murray Building was designed by the former Public Works Department and completed in 1969. This 27-storey building was the tallest government building at that time.

In 1985, the Legislative Council Chamber, which was adjacent to the Main Wing, was relocated to the Former Supreme Court Building. The vacated site was used for the construction of the New Annexe, which was built in 1989 as an extension of the Main Wing.

Tamar Development Project

The new Government headquarters at Tamar will bring together the offices of the Chief Executive, Executive Council and Secretariat, Chief Secretary for Administration, Financial Secretary, 12 policy bureaus and other main offices within a centralised modern development.

 

Main Wing, Central Government Offices completed in 1956 with the then Legislative Council Chamber on the left
Main Wing, Central Government Offices completed in 1956 with
the then Legislative Council Chamber on the left.

 

Main Wing, Central Government Offices in 2011 with
the New Annexe on the left.
Main Wing, Central Government Offices in 2011 with the New Annexe on the left
   

As office requirements have changed over time, there has been a request for additional office space from LegCo. The team also needed to improve the provision of barrier-free access to comply with the Barrier Free Access guidelines, which was updated
following commencement of the project.

“People’s aspirations have changed over time, so we worked to include more green features and incorporate artworks in the project,” says Miss Mak. “We launched a competition and invited proposals for commissioned sculptures to be positioned in open space areas.”

Miss Mak explains that artworks will be sourced from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for the communal areas at Tamar. They have asked the Department to identify suitable works in their existing inventory though commissioning new works of art is also a possibility.

Greener and more caring environment

Miss Mak says that the offices at Tamar will include a number of new features, including conference rooms provisioned for paperless meetings, the availability of Wi-Fi connectivity in communal areas and major conference rooms, and a consolidated computer server facility.

“The ‘Open Door’ design of the new Central Government Offices guarantees that there is sufficient airflow penetrating into the inner city and between buildings, thus avoiding the creation of a ‘wall effect’ that often results when a number of high-rise buildings stand side by side,” says Miss Mak.

Additional environment-friendly design elements include the introduction of more greenery to instil a cooling, park-like effect outdoors, vertical greening, green roofs, an air-conditioning system utilising seawater, a rainwater recycling system, LED lighting, ambient lighting to reduce the amount of lighting required, sensors to detect occupancy and adjust lighting accordingly, and open plan “zoning” to reduce the amount of power required for air-conditioning and power. Barrier-free access onsite and in buildings includes wider passages to cater for the disabled and larger disabled toilets.

“There is also some flexibility for expansion at Tamar to cater for changing office requirements,” says Miss Mak. “We have reserved some space for future expansion, and the space will not be idle but will be used for briefing or training purposes for the moment.”

The Tamar headquarters will be a great source of pride for Hong Kong and will be one of the greenest government buildings in the city. Construction has been in good progress since day one and the project is within budget, thanks to the co-operation of all parties involved, from Miss Mak’s team to various bureaus/departments, in particular Architectural Services Department, and from LegCo to the contractor. The new Tamar complex is destined to become a new architectural landmark and also signals the Government’s commitment to a green and sustainable future for Hong Kong.

 
 
Green features of the Tamar Development Project - The project has incorporated a number of green features, such as green roofs, photovoltaic panels, water features to provide evaporation cooling effect and vertical planting walls to improve thermal insulation of the building and street landscape environment.