M+, Hong Kong. Gift of Rocco Design Architects Associates Ltd., 2013, © Rocco Design Architects Ltd. Photo: M+, Hong Kong
I've always believed that an architect's work is the best in a place that he knows best. Especially for artists working in cities as most contemporary architects do. Because for me, architecture is never about just your own building. It's part of a bigger puzzle. You should ask the city what it likes its building to be before you start, because the city comes first and then comes to the architecture.
That’s Rocco Yim, the architect behind Hong Kong’s government headquarters. He shared what it was like designing such an important landmark that links with the very fabric of the city.
This project has a particular focus that we need to pay attention to: it's a government headquarters. Now, not every building is a government headquarters! We need to think how the image could be appropriate to represent what we aspire a government for Hong Kong should be.
We set out aiming not so much to create iconic architecture. We set out to create an iconic place, which is why we have this simple conceptual statement: it’s a project that signifies the door being always open, and the land is always green, and people are always connected.
Door always open actually meaning that it represents one of Hong Kong's key attributes. It is an open society that welcomes people and culture from all over the world, that it assimilates external influence. But also, it's an aspiration that our government should always be open and open-minded, and therefore transparent. So that's this openness.
The land always green, meaning that the key design elements in this complex is actually the green carpet that goes through the high-rise building in the centre. Linking the centre of the city with the future harbour front. Being green, of course, again is our aspiration to a sustainable future.
People always connected, because the physical connectivity provided by this green carpet ensures a fluidity of movement. You can easily walk from the city to the water’s edge; whether you're using the building, visiting the building, or not; you could do it twenty-four hours a day. Enjoying the space and taking the view of the surrounding, hopefully, impressive structures that house the different branches of government.
So, the door always open, the land always green, and the people always connected. So, both civic significance and actual urban intentions.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Headquarters (2007–2011) study model is an architectural model created by Rocco Yim and Rocco Design Architects in 2011, measuring 44.5 centimetres high, 91.2 centimetres wide, and 136 centimetres deep. The medium includes cardboard and acrylic.
The model represents an architectural complex that sits near the Central and Western District Promenade with its back to the Admiralty Centre. The complex can be divided into three sections. Viewed from the Promenade, the left section is the Legislative Council Complex. The middle section is the Central Government Offices. The right section is the Chief Executive’s Office. The complex constitutes one city block surrounded by roads, which are represented in the form of a city plan drawn with thin black lines. Behind the complex is Harcourt Road; on the left is Tim Mei Avenue; in the front near the shore is Lung Wo Road; and on the right is Tim Wa Avenue.
For the 3D part of the model, at the very back is the footbridge of the Admiralty Centre. The footbridge is connected to the building in front of it, the Central Government Offices. Further in front, on the left is the Legislative Council Complex, and on the right is the Chief Executive’s Office. The Tamar Park runs through the complex at the central line until it reaches the shore at the front edge of the model, overpassing Lung Wo Road and connecting to the Central and Western District Promenade.
The footbridge of the Admiralty Centre forks into two arms that both connect to the headquarters complex. The aerial view of the footbridge appears like a hollow waterdrop. The tallest building in the complex is the Central Government Offices. Echoing the design concept of ‘doors always open’, the building has a shape that resembles a door that is opened, and is commonly referred to as the ‘open door’. The Central Government Offices are divided into the East Wing and the West Wing. To imitate the shape of the building, put your straight palms facing each other; move the right palm slightly upwards, curve the fingers at the base knuckles and lay them on the left hand’s fingertips. Your right hand is the West Wing that has a light-blue exterior, and your left hand is the East Wing that has a dark-grey exterior. Behind the back of your left hand is the East Wing Forecourt, which is commonly known as ‘Civic Square’. The space between your palms is the starting point of the Tamar Park. Under the Central Government Offices, the park’s pedestrian walkway forks into two major walkways. The walkways diverge like the slanting strokes of the capital letter A as they extend towards Victoria Harbour, and they are connected by a horizontal walkway and 4 paths that are arranged into a zig-zag shape.
On the left of the headquarters complex is the Legislative Council Complex with the Office Block and the Council Block. On the left is the Office Block with a dark-grey exterior and a height of half the Central Government Offices. Its aerial view appears like the shape of the number 7. On the right is the Council Block that looks like a compound of a rectangular building and a cylindrical building with half the height of the Office Block. The interior can be seen through the frosted semi-transparent exterior. The rooftop of the rectangular building is green, representing a green roof with vegetation.
On the right of the headquarters complex is the Chief Executive’s Office, whose height is similar to that of the Council Block of the Legislative Council Complex. It looks like a huge shipping container, and the wall that faces the harbour is transparent. The roof and the wall that faces Tim Wa Avenue are covered by alternating vertical green plates and transparent plates, through which the interior can be partially seen.