Design Election: Mod Architecture in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is

one of those special cities that titillates your every sense… and since I haven’t had an official DESIGN ELECTION in a long time, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity (two birds with one stone) to have another one.

Ahhhh…Hong Kong.

The smell of fresh noodle bowls wafting through the streets, the sounds of honking cars, yelling vendors, and the dull hum of the neon signs at night; the sight of all the shiney, sparkly, expensive jewelry, clothing, furniture, buildings, cars….the list goes on!

Walking through the streets of Hong Kong Island was a wonderful experience and a dream-come-true for modern architecture fans!

A typical Hong Kong Island street.

A view of the Hong Kong Island skyline in the distance seen from Tsim sha Tsui's waterfront.

Do you have any idea how many funky-cool buildings there are in HK? Well, I was blind-sighted by the coolness factor of this fabulous city, and feel obliged to share some photos I snapped of super-mod architecture. Feel free to CAST YOUR VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE BUILDING in the comments section.

A view of the Hong Kong skyline from up on the lookout at Victoria's Peak (accessible only by a funicular ride through Hong Kong).

Designed by Ieoh Ming Pei

OPTION # 1 BELOW: This 70-storey building (367.4m) was completed back in 1990, but the asymmetrical form remains ultra modern and in good taste today. Apparently, this building has been compared to a bamboo plant that extends its trunk higher with each new burst of growth (the successive nature of the bamboo is echoed in this structure’s form, making the building appear as if it’s stretching to grow taller and taller). Pretty nifty, huh? (and super shiny too!)

Since this is all I was able to capture on my digital camera, I'll have to give you a better sense of the China Bank Tower building from someone else's photo.

Now THAT'S more like it! (Image courtesy of

Designed by AD&RG Architects.

OPTION # 2 BELOW: This stunning building is comprised of modular pre-cast elements – a construction method that is unique to the Kowloon area but is becoming increasingly popular for it’s environmental benefits. I love the combination of materials of the design – the concrete and wood facade is stunning! Oh, and there’s a large green-roof garden patio too.

The Hong Kong Community College in Kowloon. (Image courtesy of

Usually institutional buildings in Hong Kong are low-rise, but this community college building breaks the mould. (Image courtesy of

This East Elevation drawing helps communicate the size and design of the college perfectly. (Image courtesy of

Designed by Paul Rudolph.

OPTION # 3 BELOW: The Lippo Centre Twin Towers are my favourite!  I love the odd forms of the not-so-tall-but-still-impressive buildings, and I love that they were originally referred to as “The Koala Tree” since the protruding forms resemble koalas climbing up a tree. The best part? These buildings were completed in 1988 – that’s a pretty original design for the 80′s!

Jeff (the Passport To Design mascot) standing in front of the Lippo Twin Towers.

A better view of the Lippo Twin Towers where you can see how the protruding sides could look like two koalas climbing up a tree! (Image courtesy of

Designed by Someone Cool?

OPTION # 4 BELOW: Sadly, I have no idea what this building is called, or who designed it, but I like it! Do you know? Major brownie points if you can identify this kitschy film-reel-wrapped building. It is located near the base of Victoria’s Peak, and I can’t help but think it’s a film or television company building.

This mystery building on Hong Kong Island is kitschy-cool - but I have no idea what it's called!

Designed by César Pelli.

OPTION # 5 BELOW: There are two buildings that comprise the IFC – the taller one was actually the tallest building in all of Hong Kong (it’s similar in height to the former World Trade Towers in NYC) but the International Commerce Centre skyscraper has over taken it.  The 2IFC towers are part of the International Finance Centre – a sprawling district home to the giant IFC mall, many office buildings and the only Four Seasons Hotel in HK.

Needless to say, this building dominates the skyline and can be seen from nearly every vantage point.

A view of the tallest of the 2IFC buildings. It's a little bit phallic, mais non? (Image courtesy of

A view of majestic 2 IFC from the Ferry to Hong Kong Island.

There is so much beauty to be seen in Hong Kong (and surrounding areas) it’s hard to capture and convey it all in a photograph.

I did enjoy spending time on the Tsim sha Tsui waterfront looking out to the Hong Kong Island skyline, especially at night when all the buildings were lit up during the Hong Kong Light Show! The show itself was pretty lack-lustre, but it was great to see all the buildings pointed out with colourful lights.

All lit up at night, some of Hong Kong Island's most impressive buildings are literally illumintated for all to see.

So, folks…what’s it going to be? Do you have a favourite, if so, how come? Vote in the comments section below :)

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  1. I think the alternating “lego” like boxes stacked upon each other on the Hung Hom Bay building (#2) is really interesting. I’ve never been to Hong Kong – so thanks for this virtual architecture tour. I really enjoyed it!

  2. Hong Kong is really great, Jacqueline! There’s so much more than I have shown (obviously). Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for voting!

  3. I’m with Jacqueline, Option 2 is the most appealing to me :)

  4. I love the Hung Hom Bay Building. I just like the mixture of materials and the “modular” look to it! You really have been everywhere, haven’t you Tania?

  5. Definitely #2 for me. Very original and a refreshing change from the standard concrete and/or glass tower.

  6. Alright folks, seems as though Option #2 is the forerunner! :)

  7. Oh boy. Such great options! I will have to add my vote to number 2 – the variety of textures, and pleasantly skewed angles wins my heart. The ‘Mystery Building’ does look very sleek and striking.. definitely an honourable mention. And yes, 2 IFC is pretty phallic, lol. Great post Tania!

  8. hanks, Kat :) I’m happy you could see what I liked about each option – they’re all great in their own right! The general consensus of Opt. 2 is not surprising – it’s a beautiful building!

  9. Great piece here! I am totally in love with option 2! It just reaches out to me and grabs my imagination. Option 4 looks like a giant flash drive plugged into the ground! Just saying!

  10. hahaha I love it! Thanks for the vote, Ron! Option 2 is definitely the winner…and from now on I will stop referring to Option 4 as a phallic building and start referring to it as a flash drive ;)

  11. The Hong Kong Community College is nice, thanks for sharing!
    Question: The China Bank Tower was somehow influenced by the John Hancock Building from Chicago? same architect? Check it out! the X shapes are pretty similar.


  12. Guillermo – wow, I can see the similarities in the China Bank Tower and the John Hancock Building in Chicago! Here’s a link for anyone who’d like to take a peek:

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