• Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s “Innovation Tower”

    25 March 2009

    Renowned London architect, Zaha Hadid, will make her mark in Hong Kong with her futuristic Design School for Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

    Awarded the commission from a field of international contenders, Ms Hadid is acknowledged as one of the most influential figures in the world of modern architecture. In 2004, she became the first female recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

    Having built a global reputation for revolutionary design, Ms Hadid credits Hong Kong as the place “where it all started” for her. In 1983, Ms Hadid’s design won an international competition for The Peak Club, a residential and sports facility in the city’s most prestigious neighbourhood. The project was never built, but the award was one of the first public acknowledgements of her work and a key boost to her now illustrious career. Ms Hadid also recently designed the Mobile Art travelling museum for French luxury brand Chanel, which in February 2008 kicked off its world tour in Hong Kong.

    Ms Hadid established her professional practice in London and her works can be found in major cities around the world. These include the BMW Central Building in Leipzig; the National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome; and the Olympics Aquatics Centre to be built in London. Innovation Tower will be her first permanent architectural work in Hong Kong.

    A 10-member selection panel assessed some 48 local and overseas architect firms expressing interest in this project, and shortlisted five candidates to submit their project proposals. In selecting the final candidate, the panel has taken into consideration both technical feasibility of the project and cost.

    Scheduled for completion in 2011, Innovation Tower will house the School of Design and support the development of its areas of specialisation, namely Environmental Design, Industrial and Product Design, Visual Communication, Advertising and Digital Design. It will also include a museum to showcase local and international design classics, as well as a public gallery to exhibit works by staff, design students and local talents. When in Hong Kong to launch the Innovation Tower project, Ms Hadid described her design as “bringing together concepts of strata, landscape and layering”.

    “The new Innovation Tower would serve as a driving force in the development of Hong Kong as a design hub in Asia. The new tower will also provide additional space to facilitate inter-disciplinary research and education in the field of design,” stated Chairman of PolyU Council, Victor Lo Chung-wing.

    Over past few decades, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has nurtured numerous professionals from different industries. PolyU is the sole provider of tertiary design education and the city’s most important hub of design education and development. The School of Design (SD) is committed to sustaining excellence in design education, practice, consultation and research in order to harness the legacy and dynamism of Asian cultures in creating solutions for human needs and to create strategic models for products, brands, and systems in both local and global markets. SD has also made its mark, for two consecutive years since 2006, as one of the top 60 design schools in the world, according to the independent surveys conducted by Business Week.

    Construction of Innovation Tower will begin in 2009. It will be located at the northeastern tip of the university campus. Upon completion, the Tower will provide some 12,000 m2 of net operational floor area and will be able to accommodate about 1,800 staff and students.

    Innovation Tower will also incorporate Communal Viewing Lounge and School of Design Executive Offices, Teaching Spaces and Offices, School of Design Studios, Labs and Offices, Center for Inter-Departmental Design Collaboration Activities, Classrooms and Lecture Halls, Podium Design Museum and Exhibition Space, and School of Design Workshops Planned Innovation Tower facilities will also be more than sustainable. For the teaching and learning spaces, it will house a resource centre, lecture rooms, studios/workshops, lecture theatres and computer rooms. A museum will showcase local and international classics and a public gallery will exhibit works by staff and SD students, as well as local talent. Above all, supporting spaces, like conference rooms and offices will also available. It is expected that Innovation Tower will provide a congenial environment to support SD staff and students in the pursuit of excellence.

    Founded in 1937 as the Government Trade School. Situated in Wood Road, Wanchai, the School was the first publicly funded, post-secondary technical institution in Hong Kong. After World War II, the School became the Hong Kong Technical College in 1947, offering both full-time and part-time courses. The year 1957 saw the opening of the new premises of the College in Hung Hom. The Hong Kong Polytechnic was formally established on 1 August 1972, taking over the campus and staff of the Hong Kong Technical College. Its mandate was to provide professionally-oriented education.

    Having gained approval from the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee forself-accreditation of degree programmes, the Institution assumed full university status on 25 November 1994, changing its name to The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Today, PolyU is an institution of higher learning and offers more than 130 postgraduate, undergraduate and sub-degree programmes, supported by more than 1,000 academic and research staff members from different parts of the world.

    Text: Suzanne Dennis / 翻译: Sing Chau


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