FGLA 2019 Merit: The University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong

Institutional, Landscape / 2nd Quarter 2019

FGLA 2019 Merit: The University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong

Nestled among tree canopies and verdant public hiking trails, the University of Chicago’s new Asian campus—The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex I The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong—was inspired by the site’s challenging topography, panoramic views and remnants of its military past.

The single, curvilinear expression of the building discreetly weaves the academic programme into the contours of the site’s terrain, touching only at points of least intrusion and bridging the heritage blocks to reconcile the old and new, natural and man-made. Evoking a contemporary ‘tree house of knowledge’, this facility floats gently over the natural landscape and historic relics, and incorporates several heritage structures that are now repurposed as classrooms and student lounges. The development’s landscaped deck and heritage courtyard serve as focal points and are open to the public. Similarly, the preservation and refurbishment of existing trails and lookout points allow for public access to continue uninterrupted.

Aerial view of the campus on Mount Davis

The site—formerly known as Victoria Road Detention Centre (VRDC)—is a historic site that has undergone various phases, and inhabited by different users over the years. It is located at the western edge of Hong Kong Island, overlooking the Lamma Channel with 180-degree unobstructed sea views and lush vegetation. The building design seeks to preserve as many trees on-site as possible and deliberately proposed a low structure (three storeys high with one storey below grade) such that all levels can be surrounded by trees at eye level, strengthening the sense of connection with nature. Views are maximised by generous floor-to-ceiling glazing with custom-designed frit patterns, allowing for light/shadow to further connect the building with its surroundings. By lifting the main building above the heritage buildings, new public footpaths are formed for better connections, and the newly created landscape deck is accessible to the public, making it a public hotspot.

Project Name
The University of Chicago Center in
Hong Kong
168 Victoria Road, Mount Davis, Hong
Completion Date
July 2018
Site Area
6,430 square metres
Gross Floor Area
4,915 square metres
Number of Rooms
5 classrooms; 15 group study rooms;
1 multipurpose hall; 1 reading room;
3 student lounges; 30 offices;
1 Heritage Interpretation Center
Building Height
10.75 metres
Client/OwnerThe University of Chicago Foundation in Hong Kong Limited
Architecture Firm
Revery Architecture Inc.
Principal Architects
Venelin Kokalov; Shinobu Homma
Main Contractor
Paul Y. Builders Limited
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
Civil & Structural Engineer
Landscape Architects
SWA Group; Urbis Limited
Environmental Consultant
Façade Consultant
Front Inc.
Conservation Consultant
Revival Heritage Consultants Limited

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