Header image courtesy of K11 Musea
Following the completion of the HSBC skyscraper in 1935, the propagation of gigantic, cloud-skimming buildings throughout Hong Kong have just kept on growing, marking the city as one of the vertically densest locations in the world. Although patches of greenery are frequent and one can find parks all over the city, it is sometimes hard to avoid the hustle of people and underlying caged feeling that these glossy architectural beasts can bring.
The solution? Like the savvy predecessors who laid out the blueprint for the city’s upwards rise, rooftop gardens and elevated terraces are the perfect urban features to bring a breath of fresh air to close-knit locales. Read on to find a sky-high slice of Hong Kong to call your own Babylonian hanging garden.
Built over the former Kai Tak Airport, where the underbelly of an aeroplane used to almost graze over crowded rooftop classrooms, lies a gleaming new series of residential and commercial developments. Stretched across a 1.4-kilometre track that lines Shing Fung Road from above is Kai Tak Sky Garden, a landscaped deck with a multi-faceted lookout that bridges the area’s vibrant past with the vitality of its current-day aesthetics.
The composition of the space draws heavily from aeronautical concepts and remnants of the iconic Runway 13/31 itself. Split into three main sections, explore the seasonally themed plots along the walkway, then marvel at the architectural forms as they harmoniously blend into the open-air viewing decks and spiral their way to the grassy lawn beside the water.
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Park, 33 Shing Fung Road, Kai Tak | (+852) 2806 3155
A hidden gem of Lee Tung Avenue—which was once known as “Wedding Card Street” (喜帖街) thanks to its past life of being brimming with shops that offered the craft—this garden is a secret spot that many would not expect to find amongst the entanglement of bricked retail outlets. Themed as a “garden of love,” this secluded zigzag of greenery and romantic arches hearken to scenes you would find in a wedding planner’s sketchbook, paying tribute to the area’s storied past.
Aside from offering some peace and quiet on benches next to elegant statues of Cupid dotted all around, there is a pet-friendly area for your four-legged loves as well. To get here, use the lift beside the Vivienne Tam shop and make your way to the fifth floor, where you will be greeted by soft music to enjoy with your companion (or takeaway meal).
Lee Tung Avenue Rooftop Garden, 5/F, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
A joint design by James Corner Field Operation, LAAB Architects, Speirs + Major, and Monstrum, this ultra-chic space is an oasis of calm hovering right beside the Victoria Harbour. Spread across the seventh floor of cultural-retail destination K11 Musea, the Bohemian Garden is a top feat of biomimicry in Hong Kong’s architectural scene.
The lower deck boasts an alfresco dining space, and visitors can ascend towards the expansive upper lawn by way of a staircase flanked by running water installations. Aside from hosting a plethora of chilled-out open-air events, the manicured, oval-shaped lawn and mini vegetation garden also make for a wonderful space to unwind. Little ones will be delighted to spend time at the eye-catching playground, modelled after an emerald and azure peacock and befitted with a gargantuan slide.
Bohemian Garden, 7/F, K11 Musea, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 3468 2669
Sitting atop the award-winning structure that is the West Kowloon Station is a beautiful sight-seeing channel dusted in lush foliage. A vantage point that sweeps across the quintessential harbour panorama, alongside an elite outlook towards the visually arresting Xiqu Centre, the views from the Sky Corridor are spectacular and serene.
For an evening treat, come here for an unobstructed hot seat to the nightly “Symphony of Lights” show. To get to the Sky Corridor from inside the West Kowloon Station, simply leave through Exit H towards the Green Plaza, then head towards the structure of glass and sleek panels to go up the stairs to the viewing deck.
Sky Corridor, West Kowloon Station, 1 Austin Road West, Yau Ma Tei
A far cry from the corporate hubbub, Asia Society Hong Kong Centre presents an enclave that whisks you away to another place and time. Located at the former Explosives Magazine Compound of the old Victoria Barracks, experience the palpable energy of historical relics as they seamlessly blend with the modern grey additions and forest.
Skirt through their double-decked bridge that snakes its way through the dense greenery and you will find the Joseph Lau and Josephine Roof Garden. Press pause on your busy day and enjoy the waves of calm that wash through this secluded haven hidden right underneath the noses of the glossy skyscrapers up above.
Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty | (+852) 2103 9511
Make your way to the top of Maritime Square 2 and be astounded at the sight of an unexpectedly bright and cheery green space. What was once a lorry parking site and public transport interchange has been revitalised under the concept of a “floating garden”, and the gorgeous rooftop boasts a verdant destination for shoppers to take a breather. Its dynamic swerves and cut-out patches of flora gracefully infuse the shopping centre’s clean-cut look with pops of lush verdure.
Maritime Square 2, Tsing King Road, Tsing Yi | (+852) 2186 7284
No list of rooftop gardens in the city would be complete without a mention of this icon. Serving as an impromptu multi-purpose venue where white-collar staffers can recharge during lunch hours, an after-school hangout space for burger-toting students, or even a pre-gaming watering hole where party animals can pore over cans of brew from the supermarket, the IFC Rooftop Garden has seen it all. Regardless of your purpose in visiting, there are several things that are always guaranteed—great vibes and a fantastic view.
IFC Rooftop Garden, 4/F, Two International Finance Centre, Finance Street, Central | (+852) 2295 3308