Visitor Centre with Biological and Climatology Department

This hypothetical project aims to design a visitor centre, together with the Biological and Climatology Department of Chu Hai College of Higher Education, which can provide an active and passive learning platform for locals and tourists.

The main concept of the architectural design is to encourage people who enter or pass by the building to acquire knowledge and information about the eco-environment, climate change and sustainability.

This semi-public design combines the visitor centre and academic department, which can promote better social harmoniousness and community connection between locals and visitors from other countries, as well as become a spot for learning and sharing.

The site is located at the edge of Hong Kong Park and a commercial area. The building form acts as an urban connector that connects to different important locations around the site, such as Peak Tram Station, bus stop, hotel and colleges. It provides a better environment and a shortcut for users who pass by the site every day. The linkages respond to the users, adding programmes—such as gallery, workshop and lecture hall—correspondingly.

The building applies a passive design strategy. On the ground floor, there are no dominant walls and blockages, which allows for natural ventilation. It not only brings benefits to the building itself, but also to the surrounding park and buildings. For the storeys above, only the academic tower needs enclosure. The visitor tower has no dominant walls, but just slabs and balustrades, which can help to facilitate natural ventilation. Besides, the shifting of slabs allows natural sunlight to permeate into the lower levels. This not only reduces energy consumption, but also provides natural light to users, which is more comfortable and warmer compared to artificial light.

Concrete and stucco were chosen as the main materials because they are simple and common in Hong Kong. Most of the concrete elements can be precast in Mainland China and are of good quality. These relatively cheaper materials can be put and plugged together in a simpler and faster way during construction. The colour of the concrete and stucco is plain but strong.

The most serious constraint was the various levels at the site. However, the level difference was used as an opportunity to create a specific building form to fit onto the site. A circular path was designed like a connector to connect different levels of the spots, which became a strong language of the design.

In addition, it was hard to express how the design can promote social harmoniousness. If possible, more public facilities can be added for people to conduct activities in a small space, which can shorten the distance between people and create stronger relationships in a digital world.

Student Name: Lo Shuk Yan, Yan
School: Chu Hai College of Higher Education
Programme: Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Architecture
Instructor: Dr Ken Too
Project Name: Visitor Centre with Biological and Climatology Department
Location: Central, Hong Kong
Site Area: 5,520 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 5,430 square metres
Number of Rooms: 4 lecture halls; 12 classrooms; 4 galleries; 4 conference rooms; 3 laboratories; 2 offices; 1 cafeteria
Building Height: 45 metres (5 storeys)
Images: Lo Shuk Yan, Yan