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Sky Spaces: Lofty Ideas for the Hong Kong Skyline

A competition and exhibition of hypothetical works from Benoy’s global offices opens the doors for a new approach to urban landscape. Marta Catalan Eraso reports.

Sky Spaces: Lofty Ideas for the Hong Kong Skyline

The above image is of Jiang Wu’s ‘Cloud Walk’

Scarcity of land, overwhelming real estate prices and fast-paced life are just a few of the issues that affect Hong Kong’s cityscape, resulting in an often-homogenous skyline. In response to this, Sky Spaces brings a breath of fresh air to our high-rise setting. An exhibition of works by architecture firm Benoy’s global staff, Sky Spaces challenges the repetitive nature of vertical construction in the city.

The exhibition is the result of an internal competition at Benoy, and it is part of the Peter McCaffery Fellowship, in memory of the architecture firm’s former Global Director. The competition is based around a live site located in Kowloon Bay; supported by Swire Properties, the competition required participants to design a mixed-used tower embracing green planning principles from Singapore. Designers from Benoy´s offices all around the world participated in the competition, and the two winners and two runners-up have just been announced. The first winning entry is by Jiang Wu (Benoy’s Shanghai Studio), entitled ‘Cloud Walk’. It is based on the idea of innovative, sky-high shared greenery for the general public. The second winning entry, by Jess Wilkinson and Clarissa Wenborn (Benoy’s Newark Studio, UK), is called ‘Street in the Sky’, and it takes the streetscape to higher levels, with a sky park and more.

Benoy, Sky Spaces
Winning entry ‘Street in the Sky’ by Jess Wilkinson and Clarissa Wenborn

There were 42 submissions from Benoy’s global offices, with the two sets of winners receiving £7,500 to travel wherever they want in the world, and the runners-up receiving a two-night Tokyo trip that allows them to discover the city’s approach to high-rise architecture.

“Swire Properties kindly offered their live site in Kowloon Bay as the basis of our fictional studies for this competition,” says Simon Bee, Managing Director of Global Design at Benoy. “Kowloon Bay is a great setting for the competition, as it is undergoing its own transformation as a regenerative district and future CBD for Hong Kong. The twist to the brief was obviously the introduction of Singapore’s planning principles. Bringing this into the brief means we can see the impact of these planning principles within a new context.”

Benoy, Sky Spaces
Hieu Dao and Javier de Santiago, from Benoy’s Singapore office, were runners-up with ‘Amethyst HK’

The competition is based around hypothetical ideas, but perhaps the ideas that come out of it will start shaping Hong Kong’s future urban landscape. “For Benoy, this process has been about exploring the concept hypothetically and experimenting with the idea as designers,” says Bee. “We see our initiative as starting a conversation and sparking interest in how we shape and humanise tall buildings now, and in the future.”

Benoy, Sky Spaces
Kin Chun Ma and Charlotte Law, from Benoy in Hong Kong, were also runners-up, with ‘Green Torque’

Sky Spaces will be on show at the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery, the Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, on 15 and 16 June 2016. From 20 June to 1 July 2016, the exhibition will move to the Link Bridge at Lincoln House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay.


The Fringe Club

Taikoo Place

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