Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour is about to be reshaped by a HK$12 billion redevelopment project, and a non-profit initiative jointly led by award-winning design firm Benoy is promoting discussion of how best to make use of the newest space where the city’s business district meets the water.
Hong Kong’s New Central Harbourfront Site 3 is the key site in the city’s HK$12 billion Central Harbourfront initiative, which will transform the harbourfront through development of prime office space, hotels, retail and public amenities within eight sites stretching from Central to Wan Chai. Site 3 spans from Jardine House to the Central Ferry Piers, including the current location of the city’s General Post Office, and is also home to the Hong Kong Observation Wheel attraction.
Benoy’s urban design team has created a series of concepts to spark conversation and promote the creation of optimal commercial and public benefit from the site at the heart of Hong Kong’s historic harbourfront.
Commercially Driven and Community-Minded
While commercially driven, the city’s planning brief for the redevelopment of Site 3 offers the opportunity to maximise public use for citizens and visitors to Hong Kong. The team at Benoy studied the requirements and analysed the basics of the site, including looking into key constraints and existing uses of the harbourfront area.
The brief calls for a landscaped deck which will allow pedestrians to connect from the IFC mall to the Central Ferry Piers, as well as building in more open space and street level activity areas. With a nod to the history of the area, the plan also requires the reconstruction of the Star Ferry Clock Tower at its original location.
The 157,400 square metre project is planned to include 44,800 square metres of office space and 105,200 square metres of retail, with another 3,600 square metres of public transport facilities as well as public car parking.
Bringing Forests and Coral Reefs to Central
Working together with UK-based BuroHappold Engineering the design firm came up with a range of concepts including a trio codenamed ‘Urban Forest,’ ‘Glacier’ and ‘Coral Reef.’
The concepts blend commercial viability with public placemaking to create a mixed-use destination that draws inspiration from its surroundings. ‘Urban Forest’ gives a nod to the concrete jungle that is Hong Kong while incorporating a multitude of open green spaces. ‘Glacier’ and ‘Coral Reef’ borrow from aquatic elements, with the design of ‘Glacier’ emulating the breaking-down of an ice block that flows into Victoria Harbour and ‘Coral Reef’ simulating a thriving underwater ecosystem.
“Each solution has different characteristics, but all respond to the need for connectivity, activity and a rich mix of uses within the plot,” explained Simon Bee, Global Design Director at Benoy. “The concepts offer an early representation of how Site 3 might be transformed to become a new waterfront destination that is an accessible, attractive public place, but also driving commerce.
“We hope to encourage the design and development community in Hong Kong to push the planning brief to its full potential,” Bee added. The design firm unveiled its concepts for the waterfront project at at an event organised by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) with support from Benoy, BuroHappold and non-profit organisation Designing Hong Kong.
Taking Up a Planning Challenge
Benoy decided to undertake the design initiative after the firm hosted an event with the Urban Land Institute in February of this year exploring the opportunity for ‘Connected Cities.’
As part of that urban planning discussion, Paul Zimmerman of Designing Hong Kong challenged attendees to leverage the project as a chance to set a new standard for development in the city.
Benoy’s team, which had earlier explored options for driving more business and creating a healthier city by pedestrianising Des Voeux Road in Central, was intrigued by the chance to create a new entrance to the heart of Hong Kong’s commercial district.
“We have invested significant resources in this collaboration because we want to elevate the debate surrounding the future of Site 3 to include social and environmental considerations alongside financial,” a Benoy spokesperson added. “By encouraging investment in the public realm, and designing for usability and connectivity, we believe we can deliver a world class development that will define Hong Kong as a global city for the future.”
In addition to its urban planning work, Benoy designed the interiors of Hong Kong airport’s iconic Terminal 1, as well as having designed The Elements shopping center in West Kowloon, Hysan Place in Causeway Bay and the APM in Kwun Tong. Regionally, the architecture firm led the design of Changi Airport Terminal 4 in Singapore, Parc Central in Guangzhou, and the ICC and iAPM malls in Shanghai.
This sponsored feature was contributed by Benoy.