Hong Kong is a place of great culture and a dynamic lifestyle. Filled with complementary and contrasting elements that are decor on the streets which provide a sense of artistry.
Hong Kong’s skyline is considered to be among the best in the world and the locals are very proud of their architectural structure and power. The architecture emphasizes Modernism, Functionalism, and Postmodernism.
There are few historical buildings as remains of the once urban area of Hong Kong and many skyscrapers with more than 150 meters. And Victoria Harbour and the mountains complement the landscape and the scenic views of the skyscraper patterns.
Before we talk about the most notable buildings in Hong Kong and the types of architectural styles that inhabited this beautiful city, first we need to make ourselves familiar with its history. And how all of those styles came together to form an astonishing part of Hong Kong. Back in the days during the Nanyue Kingdom, Hong Kong had its share of inhabitants who demonstrated a high level of sophistication in their buildings and architecture. A notable example of this period is Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb.
Prior to the British settlement in 1841, Hong Kong had predominantly Cantonese architectural styles and a lot of Tin Hau temples dedicated to Goddess Mazu. Since the vast majority of the locals were fishers, they built fortified villages to protect themselves from pirates and typhoons. And any other type of danger. With the increase of population, Tong Lau buildings began to appear in the city of Victoria. These were three and four-story buildings, a combination of European and Chinese architectural styles. The ground floors were turned into shops, their structure packed in blocks and small balconies on the upper floors. There were no elevators, but a set of stairs. And sometimes, there was no toilet facility either.
While the British introduced the Edwardian and Victorian architectural styles from the mid 19th century, surviving examples of that period are the Murray House, the Central Police Station, and the Legislative Council Building. As a matter of fact, the first building in Hong Kong was classified as the first high rise since it was built between 1904 and 1905. It was made up of 5 buildings and each of them had 5 to 6 stories. Most of the high-rise buildings were built after this period, mainly for business purposes. And the first skyscraper was built in 1935 for Hong Kong Bank.
Classical Lingnan Architecture
Classical Lingnan architecture refers to the characteristic styles of the Lingnan region. It’s also known as Cantonese architecture and is present in Guangxi and Guangdong provinces. This architectural style is often associated with the Cantonese people and began when the non-Han Nanyue people embedded architectural elements from the Song Empire and the Tang Empire. The style is known for its two main colors, green and white, a large number of sculptures and carvings, and many verandas and balconies. This type of architectural style allowed the locals to have homes resistant to moisture and molds. And considering the humid and hot subtropical climate in the region of Lingnan, this style became the main construction point. One of the best representatives of the Lingnan architectural style is the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall in Guangzhou. It was built in the late 19th century and was intended as an academy for Chan families from 72 countries in the Guangdong province. It comprises all sorts of styles, decorative arts, “three carvings” of wood, brick, and stone, and “three sculptures”, the clay, colorful and ceramic sculpture, and one cast iron. Nowadays, elements of the Lingnan architecture are implemented in the construction of the capital city of Guangdong province and the commercial districts in Guangzhou.
The high demand for high-rise buildings was increased in the late 1990s. And the buildings of Central along with the skyline on the coast became famous tourist attractions in Hong Kong. In the past two decades, many residential and commercial towers were built. These include The Arch, Highcliff, and The Harbourside, which were considered among the tallest in the world. Some of the towers are still under construction, like One Island East. Nowadays, Hong Kong has the world’s biggest skyline with 7 681 skyscrapers. The most notable building of contemporary style is I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower which had its turn of controversy back at the time. Supposedly, this building had negative feng shui energy due to the sharp angles of the building.
Over the years and centuries, Hong Kong was the home of many notable buildings; each of them has its own meaning and purpose. Due to the lack of available land to build on, few historical buildings are still in the urban area of the city. We’ll take you on a tour of the best architectural sites that represent this amazing mix of contemporary flair and traditional design patterns.
The Blue House is known for its striking blue and vivid exterior visuals which is a relic since the 1920s. The style perfectly blends Chinese and Western architecture and is renowned for hosting the Wan Chai Livelihood Museum. It was also known as a house of a kung-fu studio in the 1950s and the 1960s.
The Center is a landmark on its own. It’s the fifth-highest skyscraper in Hong Kong and is made entirely of steel. It emphasizes 350 meters height and is famous for the light show performance over the Victoria Harbour. The Center has low-voltage neon bars which increase the height of the building. The edifice is a masterpiece by the architects Ng Man Chun and Dennis Lau.
Central Plaza was constructed and designed by Dennis Lau and Ng Chun Man. The building is a wonderful home to the Modernism and Post-modernism period. And it’s a resemblant of the Renaissance marble palace with exotic palm trees and paintings. The building is known to have bright neon rods at the top so when the night falls, they change in color. The Central Plaza is an iconic masterpiece that is a continual reminder of time passing by.
Cheung Kong Centre
The Cheung Kong Centre is another building from the Modernism architectural style. It was designed and constructed by architects Cesar Pelli and Leo A Daly. The facade is made purely of glass with parts of stainless steel. These two materials allow the building to be the center of light during the evenings. And with the computer-controlled lighting system, it can be glowing during the nighttime. It’s 283 meters high and it’s a true delight for our eyes.
Chi Lin Nunnery
Chi Lin Nunnery was founded in 1934 and was rebuilt in the 1990s to follow the Tang Dynasty architectural style. In the following years, the architects followed through the conventions of Chinese construction with the use of wooden structures joined with special interlocking systems. It’s a building that retains the traditional architectural style.
Court of Final Appeal
The Court of Final Appeal is known for its brick and granite structure and it’s a building from the neo-Classical style which was popular in the Edwardian period. There were rumors that the building was based on Beaconsfield, a structure located nearby.
Flagstaff House of the Museum of Tea Ware
The Flagstaff House of the Museum of Tea Ware is one of the oldest buildings that have a Greek architectural style. It’s known to be hit twice in 1941, in the battle of Hong Kong, only later to be occupied by the forces in the war. Nowadays, it’s an astonishing relic of Colonial Hong Kong and was converted into a Tea Ware museum that exhibits programs of team-making, ceramic pottery, and regular demonstrations.
HSBC Main Building
The HSBC Main Building is famous for its scientific background. It’s the cutting-edge of the new architectural styles and is constructed with no reinforced concrete. Its seawater place with natural lights, the use of sunshades and mirrors, gives the scientific scent and outlook. The building is the home of two lion statues which are named Stitt and Stephen. The revolutionary concepts of this building changed the way office buildings are designed worldwide. It was completed in 1986 and the elevators were designed to sweep up angles of whiskers of a dragon sucking wealth into the stomach. Truly bizarre and wonderful at the same time.
Zaha Hadid’s Jockey Club Innovation Tower
Zaha Hadid is the starchitect who built the Innovation Tower that is of futuristic design. The magnificent style of the building with large voids and atriums, bruins the tonnes of fresh air and light. Escalators, walkways, and stairways are interconnected and connect different levels in the building. It was Zaha’s first winning design. And one of the most notable buildings in Hong Kong.
Opus Stubb’s Road
Frank Gehry designed this Opus Stubb’s building block on the hillside along Happy Valley to the Peak on Hong Kong Island. It’s an incredibly beautiful building with organic shapes that mimic the natural beauty of Mount Cameron.
Pacific Place, Admiralty
It was originally constructed in the 1980s. In 2010 was improved by the British architect Thomas Heatherwick. He introduced more light curved wood and stone and more greenery into the building. And also replaced the skylights with a layer of the glass ceiling.
I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower, Central
This China Tower building has its roots in the Colonial period. It was opened in 1990 and it was the tallest building in Asia. The building became famous for its notorious feng shui and its aggressiveness. The sharp corners look like knives slashing to the neighboring towers.
Asia Society is a modern site with heritage structures embedded into the style. It was designed by Billie Tsien and Tod Williams. Nowadays, it’s restored and adapted into a theatre, gallery, bookshop, and restaurant.
1881 Heritage is a neoclassical compound of faux historical exterior and astonishing architectural style. The main building was converted into Hullett House and the area around the building is picturesque, suitable for engagement and bridal photoshoots.
King Yin Lei
King Yin Lei is a mid-level mansion that is a fit for a king. It was declared for a monument, so the structure must be preserved and should not be altered. It was completed in 1937 for the entrepreneur Lin Po-lun and her family.