Reclaiming Central

Platform: Politics Art Media (PAM)

Related Staff : Kurt Evans

Students: Chan Lok Yiu, Cheng Tak Hei Ivan, Chung Cheuk Yan Debby, Fu Yat Him, Leung Ying, Xia Qin, Zhang Xiangyu, Chan Chun Man Jamie, Chau Chi Wang, Chung Ho Lam, Kok Sheung Yi, Anna Lau Ming Kei, Lim Kye Lee Clarissa, Mao Zhiyuan, Van Het Wout Ricki-lee Martina, Wong Cheuk Hin

Studio name: Architecture & Urban Design

Politics Art Media

The current People’s Liberation Army administration tower and adjoining barracks as well as waterfront easement area. Formerly the headquarters of the British Army, today these sites are among the most valuable development plots in the city given their Central presence, harbour views and large floor-plates.

With a long and storied historical significance – at equal moments foundational and violent – the Central harbourfront has for centuries maintained a front row seat to Hong Kong’s evolution. It’s vantage across the harbour remains – as it has through our city’s tumultuous past and current uprisings – its most essential civic space.

While navigating the political landscape of this high profile site, the ultimate goal of this studio is to solve a market problem with a space solution. Implicit to this goal is the assumption that the architect’s critical approach could yield more innovative and potentially more lucrative development solutions than those of the prudent real estate investor or formulaic developer.

Practically speaking, we run the studio like a development feasibility analysis and bid:

  • Conduct site research including site walk, historical analysis, zoning analysis,     market activity research, real estate fundamentals
  • Theorize highest and best use scenarios
  • Produce a series of vision sketches
  • Undertake financial underwriting including capital markets assessment (debt and equity availability / terms), construction budgeting, cash-flow      projection, case by case scenarios, deal structuring
  • Underwrite project risks and their mitigations
  • Research and address the push/pull of the political environment, legal     hurdles, governmental obstacles / opportunities
  • Structure partnership(s) with investors, tenants, constituents and city officials

The program combines a mix of uses determined by the studios and your own market research and observations. A particular focus is be placed on the civic responsibility of the proposal to the nearby waterfront, as well as delicate approach to the displacement, incorporation or other solution for the site’s current PLA occupants. Students also determine whether or not the existing 1978 tower is kept and re-purposed, or eliminated.

This studio aims to bridge design thinking with real estate development rigour. The pursuits strive to be architecturally innovative, civic minded and financially sound. The balance of these various, often competing, demands are tenuous. Achieving this balance is the central challenge of the studio.

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