Commodified Waterfront Developments: The Case of Victoria Dockside, Hong Kong

Commodified Waterfront Developments: The Case of Victoria Dockside, Hong Kong

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According to Lefebvre, modern capitalism has led to the commodification of all aspects of urban life. Like any product in a capitalist society, the built environment is a commodity that must be endowed with exchange value. Whilst inter-urban competition continues to intensify under neoliberal capitalism, governments and their private partners have become ever more fixated on finding ways to attract investment and generate speculation, resulting in the domination of exchange value over use value in urban developments. As evident in the growing body of literature, waterfronts have become the primary site for driving urban transformations in recent years. Waterfront developments are often viewed by governments and private developers as not only a driver for profit and growth, but also a place branding exercise that engenders a “global” image or outlook. The waterfront is thus a highly contentious site where different stakeholders try to stake their own claims. Using a mix of qualitative methods including document reviews, semi-structured interviews and site observations, this paper sets out to examine the development and planning process of Victoria Dockside – a private mixed-use development that also consists of a public waterfront promenade in one of the most prominent sites within Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. The project is driven by both private and state interests through an innovative approach to public-private partnership, which has not only led to the public outcry of alleged collusion, but also resulted in a waterfront public space that is problematic in more than one way. This paper contends that Victoria Dockside is an exemplary case of commodified waterfront development that is increasingly common in cities around the world.

Corresponding Author

Elton Chan

Lund University

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Elton Chan

Lund University

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Preferred Track

7. Urban competitiveness and social challenges

Second Preferred Track

6. Urban policies

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