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Shun Tak Center's Transition Under City Construction

4074 words - 17 pages

Modern skyscrapers distinguish themselves for the unreasonably large scale and height. They thrust into the city, being surrounded by lawns and squares, seeming to claim that they are powerful enough to create an independent world inside the urban context. Mainland China provides numerous typical examples for this kind of inhuman skyscrapers: from the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange Center. Whereas in Hong Kong, where land resource is restricted to a great extent, it appears that the independence of skyscrapers doesn’t work out since skyscraper as a form is no longer a way of flaunt but the only choice on this small island. Skyscrapers have to be connected to surrounding urban context for survival. Shun Tak Center in Central is a good example for skyscraper design in Hong Kong in terms of its connection to its locus. As time goes by, the transition of this building also proved that skyscrapers couldn’t be split from the surrounding urban context, either physically or visually.
On the north coastline of Hong Kong Island stand twin towers with their red truss belt differentiate themselves from other skyscrapers. They are the Shun Tak Center located on Connaught Road 200, including east and west towers, Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal and Shun Tak Heliport. [Fig.1] Such a programmatic complexity cannot come out of no reason. From the very beginning of colony, there have been routine ferries connecting Hong Kong and Macau. While until the 1980s, not even one formal building was built for this ferry, which aroused the dissatisfaction of the ferry’s operator. Before that, the best facility for the ferry was a 25-year-old temporary building in Central. Through the negotiation with the developer, an agreement was achieved that the developer can build his buildings onto this site only if he promises to provide a brand-new high-tech quality pier to the operator.
This project was commissioned to Spence Robinson Ltd. They promoted a design which achieved the requirement of the ferry operator and maximized the developer’s interest at the same time. [Fig.2] Instead of compacting all the programs into one massing, the pier was pushed off sea and divided into two halves, leaving a 60-meter wide pathway for jet ship going through. Heliport was place on the rooftop of the ferry. Two towers were built on the site with a 4-story-high platform connecting them at the bottom. Of these two towers, the east tower established in 1985 was designed as a hotel. The west tower was more of an office building with its establishment one year after. The platform in between two towers spared its ground level for transportation. The other floors were used as shopping malls and ticket office for the ferry. Two footbridges reached out from the platform to connect the building and the off sea ferry and heliport. [Fig.3] This attempt to combine the commercial and transportation space was a creative trial especially compared to the Central Pier next to the IFC...

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