Beyond Extrusion

Hong Kong Tower Revolution

The housing market in Hong Kong seems to be dominated by the standard norm of a monotonous vertical extrusion of the most efficient and most profitable floor plan. Strict Hong Kong planning laws result in housing with minimal quality. Yes the necessary quantity of houses are provided, yet there is much potential to provide higher quality housing.

In contrast to other global cities, and with the growth of the middle class, the repetitive design lacks variation in size of units, outdoor space, diversity in typologies, ecology as well as architectural excitement.

In general the following qualities could be inserted: higher ceilings, better views, more diversity (in program and use), more flexibility, more sharing, more outdoor spaces, , more collective spaces, more natural cooling, more green, more water maintenance, more excitement! ; all elements that ‘open up’ the tower, adding porosity that creates potential for more quality of living.

This studio explored various concepts for housing towers beyond the current extrusion model.

By testing the current Hong Kong housing regulations and exploring new indicators with which Hong Kong’s quality of housing can be improved and will lead to innovative housing towers beyond the principles of the current standard extrusion model.

Architecture & Urban Design III (ARCH 5001) – Hong Kong Tower Revolution

Hong Kong’s current housing tower design is heavily governed by the development potentials / controls under the Hong Kong Planning Ordinance and the Building Ordinance. In contrast with the competition with other global cities, the repetitive design seem to lack size variation, outdoor spaces, diversity, greenness, ecology as well as a lack of architectural excitement.

How can Hong Kong’s housing escape its unrelenting uniformity and the denial of diversity?

How to escape from the current stringent planning and building regulations?

How to create more qualities? And what qualities should that be?

This studio studied the organization of apartments and looked into the different types of rooms and their functions. It explored various activities such as cooking, dining, bathing, sleeping, storing, relaxing and made proposals for improvement of these activities. Each improvement required a specific spatial quality and led to new apartment typologies. Some qualities included higher ceilings, more window openings, different room shapes, more outdoor spaces or more privacy. Other qualities asked for different connections, better natural cooling, more sustainable measures or better access and views to the outdoor.

This studio opened the discussion for a more diverse housing development and proposed various motives for both horizontal and vertical mixing that led to housing towers with a higher amount of porosity (open space).

It showcased 30 alternative residential tower typology designs that can be understood as a first step to add more diversity to the Hong Kong housing market. The towers were measured against value indicators such as view, direct sunlight, indirect light, access to outdoor space, and amount of useable space.

The studio results were exhibited at the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture (UABB) in Hong Kong.