20 years on: how Hong Kong architecture has transformed the skyline since the handover
We celebrate the city’s architectural landmarks soaring from height to height
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- Sign up to our newsletter Newsletter
Tomorrow marks 20 years since the United Kingdom returned the sovereignty of Hong Kong to China. It’s an understatement to say that things have changed since 1 July 1997 – culturally, politically and architecturally. Set against a verdant backdrop of mountains and buoyed by Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong’s architectural fabric is unlike any other, boasting starchitect projects from the likes of Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and more. As construction continues apace, we trace the city’s most remarkable buildings...
Building: The Landmark
Key features: Two square 44-storey, 140m towers, named the Gloucester and Edinburgh Towers, stand diagonally on the podium of Exchange Square, both featuring column-free office floors with deeply recessed windows. Each tower extends through the lower public areas, forming the edge of a large skylit atrium, with a tessellating roof structure
Building: HSBC Building (Hongkong and Shanghai Bank HQ)
Architect: Foster + Partners
Key features: Stepped profile of three individual towers, respectively 29, 36 and 44 storeys high, service cores located at the perimeter of the building, sheltered public plaza below, terraced gardens
Building: Lippo Centre
Architect: Wong & Ouyang
Key features: Two office towers of 42 and 46 floors respectively with a commercial base, dark blue glass facade, the building can be accessed by pedestrians by elevated footbridges, sculptural design.
Building: Exchange Square
Key features: A complex consisting of a triad of towers, two 52-storey and one 32-story, all utilising an underlying geometric order of square and circular elements to achieve a distinct sculptural profile. It’s top floor features a stepped arrangement, whilst horizontal modular bands of silver reflective glass and pink Spanish granite provide an aesthetic outlook.
Building: Bank of China Tower
Architect: IM Pei & Partners
Key features: Held the title of tallest building outside of the US between 1990 and 1992, a duo of signature masts reach 367.4 m, vast glass-curtain walls.
Building: British Consulate General
Key features: Low-rise structure in keeping with the hillside setting, a constrast to the surrounding monolithic high-rises, granite, aluminium and glass cladding, structure of reinforced concrete, located in Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels area
Building: Peak Tower
Key Features: Crescent shape inspired by the valley landscape, solid base with upswept eaves references traditional Chinese architecture, structure of reinforced concrete with aluminium, glass and metal cladding, symbolic of the city and appears on the $20 bank note, one of Hong Kong’s most visited tourist destinations.
Building: International Commerce Centre (ICC)
Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox
Key features: Structured around eight concrete mega-columns, around which a shingle style façade articulates a subtle, external curvature, sophisticated environmental control systems.
Building: Hong Kong Design Institute
Architect: Coldefy & Associates
Key features: The 100 sq m platform represents a ‘floating white sheet’ sitting 33m above ground level, supported by four towers and a diagrid structural system.
Building: The Forum
Key features: Five storey office building, shaped like a cube titled 15.5 degrees off one corner, glass facades, located on the site of a bus station, a Henry Moore sculpture is located in the outdoor plaza.
Building: Jockey Club Innovation Tower
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Key features: 15-storey, 15,000 sq m tower, features fluid and connect volumes in constant dialogue with each other, including surrounding raised landscapes.
Building: M+ museum
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron and Farrells
Key features: Forward facing aspect, plans include large horizontal slabs perpendicular to the base platform, completed with a sky garden
Hong Kong’s skyline has transformed dramatically over the past few decades. Today, it boasts more skyscrapers above 150m than any other city in the world. Major new projects taking shape include the West Kowloon terminus by Aedas (opens in new tab), and the Hong Kong Science Park, set to firmly place the forward-thinking city on the technology and innovation map. Watch this space...
Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
Marimekko taps Sabine Finkenauer for a graphic tableware and textiles collection
Salone del Mobile 2023: the Finnish design house’s latest Artist Series in collaboration with Sabine Finkenauer will be on show in Brera’s Galleria II Milione
By Sam Rogers • Published
A modern barnhouse makes a faceted form on an exposed site in Southern Chile
Estudio Diagonal’s barnhouse project, Ridge House, is a stripped back private home that uses everyday materials and simple geometry to maximise interior space
By Jonathan Bell • Published
Patek Philippe’s Watches and Wonders 2023 releases embody a sharp technicality
Discover the new watches from Patek Philippe
By Hannah Silver • Published