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Hong Kong Typology-Emanuel Christ, Christoph Gantenbein,ETH

2015.11.19

Hong Kong is to some extent the ideal case: Nowhere do buildings stand more dramatically in the topography. Nowhere else is such an extreme density so expressively transcribed into built architecture. The overwhelming extensiveness of repetitive structures appears almost surreal. The volumes triumph with their unexpected forms. The proportions of slim towers seem threatening. The sheer size of the buildings is already an architectural feat in itself. Everything is fantastic and simultaneously so evident.

The incisive form of these buildings is the direct consequence of technical or functional constraints. Hong Kong’s edifices are not designed to be beautiful. They are built in a pragmatic way. The architecture is the immediate expression of the extreme conditions under which it occurs: the topography, the climate as well as the economic circumstances. As a logical outcome, an extreme architecture of exact and novel building types arose: Pencil Tower, Gallery Building, Vertical Factory, Shop-House, Podium and Tower, Double Tube, Slab Composition and Star Shape Tower. 

Hong Kong is the city of sheer typological invention implemented into high performance architecture. Hong Kong is the built manifesto of extreme density. Due to their size and lapidary setting, the buildings develop an uncommonly strong physical presence. They feature basic, clear tectonic structures. Based on an economical use of the constructive and formal architectural means, their language swings between an anonymous lack of design and a classical modern expression.

Compared to the 20th century orthodoxy of modern city layout, Hong Kong refutes the prejudice that no possible urbanity can be built using modern architect’s tools. On the contrary, in certain aspects the city appears to us as an exemplary model for a city of the future: Hong Kong is dense. Hong Kong is urban. Hong Kong is beautiful.