June 2001

Hing Fat Street

Parkside prominence

Just east of Causeway Bay's Victoria Park, a new office tower is cutting a distinctive two-tone form, commanding views of the green open space and the harbour.

The 88 Hing Fat Street site benefits from a prominent location on the corner of two busy roads, overlooking Victoria Park and featuring unobstructed harbour views. In briefing project Architects Andrew Lee King Fun & Associates Architects, client Chung Shun Land Investment Co Ltd called for an equally prominent design for the office tower.
       The harbour views over the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club moorings offered subtle influence
-- the final tower features a curved, sail-like elevation. With the concept approved and refined, the striking form was edged with tubular features in "molten silver" that add tension to the form. Although the building exterior was designed to create an impact, the architects were mindful not to take ornamentation too far, explained architect Christina Lee. "Because the form itself is so strong, we thought we needn't do too much to add to the style."
      With an emphasis on form over colour, the curtain wall is kept to bluish glazing and "molten silver" aluminium cladding. At roof level, the tubular features extend on angled reinforced concrete columns.
       Lee noted that the curtain wall and cladding at 88 Hing Fat Street was expected to be more expensive than systems on similarly sized projects. Regional economic crisis, however, meant that by the 1998 tender date sub-contractors and suppliers were offering significantly reduced fees, making the project less expensive than originally intended.
       The curved elevation posed difficulties in specifying a suitable cleaning system. The roof features restricted access to a certain extent and the overhang at lower floors was an issue. Following interviews with gondola specialists, the architects chose a gondola system from Buildtech that works like a drawing compass. The platform is jacked up on the lower curve, placing the cradle towards the building and keeping it stable. The architects worked with the gondola supplier to help coordinate placing the system for most efficient maneuverability on the tight roof space, thereby smoothing the workflow and ensuring preparation during construction.

Office facilities
The size of the site limited the extent of the outer curve and called for efficient layouts to meet site constraints and provide the most pleasant office environment for future tenants. Cantilevered floor plates are oriented to best admit the views, and adopt an L-shaped plan fanning out from the building core. Service areas are housed at the rear corner of the site.
       Since inception in mid-1997, the development has been proposed and designed with an eye toward IT firms, consultancies and other medium-sized businesses. Though relatively uncommon at the time, the developers requested raised flooring and structured broadband cabling to be built in.
       The architects sought a raised flooring system limited to a 150-mm height, including access panels. The relatively low height for the system takes into account the 3.5-metre floor-to-ceiling measurements at 88 Hing Fat Street, and a desire not to increase the headroom and construction costs that would correspond. An existing system was modified to form a simple system of pedestals without additional support or channels.

Site supervision
Complexity of the design and site saw the architects take a supervisory role to help guide the project through the construction process. Though the design concept is simple, the curtain wall design created certain challenges for the contractor.
       The segmented curve of straight lines meant that certain beams would not be vertical. Similarly, the different floor sizes to meet the curve meant that re-using formwork was no simple matter. The architects assumed a coordination role to ensure precise adherence to plans in realising the building form.
       Similarly, the interiors needed special attention, since the curve did not allow for standard wall units, and required soffits and seals of varying sizes from floor to floor. Interior finishing was carried out with on-site fabrication, Lee said, and a mock-up was provided for reference.
       In addition to the building form, the architects and client encountered a challenge during the government submission. A portion of land for road widening was exchanged in return for a higher plot ratio. The road works, which had to contend with buried utilities during construction, were required before the building's Occupation Permit was issued in January this year. 

architect Andrew Lee King Fun & Associates Architects
developer The Chung Shun Land Investment Co Ltd
building services MECS Consulting Engineers
structural engineers HK Cheng & Partners
main contractor Wing Sum Construction & Engineering Co Ltd

-- Building Journal