Header image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
In our city of towering skyscrapers and densely-packed buildings, you could easily find a smattering of architectural wonders within a short radius. Sure, in the mix are a myriad of renowned historical structures—like the famous Blue House and Tai Kwun complex, to name a few—that get a lot of attention for their rich cultural heritage and legacy. However, if you want to ditch the clichéd attractions and seek out their oft underappreciated yet equally remarkable modern counterparts, here are the eight most stunning contemporary buildings in Hong Kong to explore!
Hong Kong’s International Commerce Centre (ICC) needs no introduction. Rising to a neck-stretching height of 484 metres, this 108-storey commercial skyscraper is the tallest building in the city, an honour once held by its Hong Kong Island counterpart, IFC. Literally standing a head above a whole forest of other skyscrapers, it has become an emblem of Hong Kong’s skyline for over a decade. Combining a metallic façade and sleek, curved lines, the ICC epitomises modern design whilst setting itself apart with its iconic flared base that is meant to resemble a dragon’s tail.
Its modern architecture alone is enough reason to pay this building visit, but if you’re itching for an even more intense visual experience, head up to the Sky100 Observation Deck on the hundredth floor for jaw-dropping 360-degree views of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong Island, and the Kowloon peninsula!
International Commerce Centre (ICC), 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui
If there is one place in Hong Kong to find stellar modern architecture, you would not go wrong at an educational institution dedicated to fostering creativity and innovation. Nestled in Tiu Keng Leng, the unique structural features of the Hong Kong Design Institute was based on the winning design in a 2006 international architecture competition, beating out over 160 submitted proposals. It is easily recognisable for its four giant, latticed towers that appear to be bundled together by a floating glass box, raised seven storeys off the ground. To reach the top of the box, you can take the 60-metre-long escalator that extends from the street level and fully experience the dramatic site! It’s a daring design, to be sure, and has won much admiration for its inspired approach.
Hong Kong Design Institute, 3 King Ling Road, Tiu Keng Leng | (+852) 3928 2000
Befitting its name, The Beacon is conspicuous mark amid the high-density neighbourhood of Mong Kok, sticking out with its protruding cuboid elements and distinctively modern appearance. Praised for its seamless integration of functionality and beauty, this hotel building has won nearly 20 accolades in various design categories. You might think that the irregularly stacked blocks, which resemble rotating cubes, are there just for show, but they were actually thoughtfully choreographed to allow for unobstructed views for the occupants of the building! The lower section of the structure departs from the high-tech aesthetics, transitioning to botanical-clad walls that lend an inviting and lively touch to the alluring building.
The Beacon, 88 Sai Yee Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 2960 2888
Perched on the lush green hillside between Happy Valley and the Peak, Opus is certainly coveted for its prestigious address, boasting breathtaking panoramas that overlook Hong Kong’s bustling financial district and the famous Victoria Harbour, but what truly impresses is the building’s striking façade. Brought to life by none other than world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, this towering residential building was custom-designed to reflect the city’s distinctive landscape. The curved columns are elegantly encased in glass and organically twisted in a fashion that mimics a flower swaying in a gentle breeze.
Opus Hong Kong, 53 Stubbs Road, Mount Cameron, The Peak
Imagine if a handful of jagged, geometric volumes were to be thrown together in a jumble and they magically melded into one another to form a harmonious whole—that’s Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre. Typical of Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind’s works, this eye-catching academic building located in City University sports a deconstructivist crystalline appearance, complete with bold angular forms and intersecting planes that make for a visual feast, no matter which direction you look at it from! And believe it or not—the interiors are equally as stylish with their irregular cavernous spaces and monochromatic colour palette.
Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, 18 Tat Hong Avenue, The City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong | (+852) 3442 8049
At the time that the HSBC Main Building was completed in 1986, it topped the charts as the most expensive building in the world—that’s got to be a testament to the sheer ambition and effort poured into constructing this architectural masterpiece! This revolutionary building was the first of its kind, as it stands without a central supporting structure. It is instead predominantly supported by an exoskeletal frame that flaunts the building’s technical features, including its triangular trusses and steel masts. These features are well-balanced by the otherwise high-tech, glassy façade, giving the bank’s headquarters a sophisticated and imposing look well-suited for its function.
HSBC Main Building, 1 Queen’s Road Central, Central
This colossal, futuristic structure is architectural innovation at its finest. Designed by Pritzker-Prize-winning architecture studio Zaha Hadid Architects, the Jockey Club Innovation Tower has served as a creative hub for design students at Polytechnic University since its opening in 2014. Its shape is best described as a tilted and aesthetically deformed spaceship, with a narrow tip on one end and strong curves that evokes a sense of fluidity. Further reinforcing the fluid composition are the jutting horizontal lines in between reflective strip window panels. Even from afar, its beauty will have you stopping in your tracks to gawk!
Jockey Club Innovation Tower, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom | (+852) 2766 5454
You might not expect a sludge treatment facility to make its way onto this list, but anyone who has been to T-Park knows that there’s much more to this state-of-the-art infrastructure than just sewage by-products. In addition to generating electricity from waste, T-Park is home to numerous recreational and educational facilities aimed to promote environmental awareness, including an exhibition hall, a theatre, a self-service café, and more—all packaged into an architecturally stunning and sustainably-minded complex. The low-slung and wave-like designs are built to make the most out of natural sunlight, enhanced with green roofs to keep energy consumption at a minimum. For sceptics who have doubts that environmental sustainability and visual appeal could be simultaneously be achieved, a visit to T-Park will undoubtedly change your mind!
T-Park, 25 Nim Wan Road, Tuen Mun | (+852) 2910 9700