‘Starchitect’ is a combination of the words star and architect. Simply, the term epitomises celebrity status in the architecture world. We’ve certainly got no shortage of innovative, futuristic and eye popping structures; virtually every starchitect in the world has a building here. This makes Hong Kong a showcase for some of the world’s most awesome architecture. Aren’t we lucky that, when we’re in need of visual stimulation, all we need to do is either look out or look up?
Starchitect: 5 Awesome HK Buildings by Famous Architects
Norman Foster | Kai Tak Cruise Terminal
33 Shing Fung Road, Kowloon
British architect Lord Norman Foster is a HK favourite. He’s also the man behind the HSBC Building in Central and the HK International Airport in Chek Lap Kok. This makes it all the more poetic, then, that it also fell onto him to turn the old Kai Tak Airport into a cruise terminal. In a vertical city, this whale of a building disrupts the architectural landscape with its imposing, horizontal magnitude. Above the terminal, you’ll find the largest rooftop garden in Hong Kong covering an area of 23,000 square metres. Get your selfie sticks ready because it also features a central lawn, a water garden, a fountain plaza and a viewing platform from which to take in jaw-dropping views of both Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. Bonus – Megabox is just a few minutes away by taxi. You my enjoy buy one get one free food and drink offers on your post-sightseeing meal at Achacha.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the MTR to Kowloon Bay station and from there, jump into minibus 86.
Zaha Hadid | Jockey Club Innovation Tower
11 Yuk Choi Rd, Hung Hom, Kowloon
Dame Zaha Hadid is a favourite here at ENTERTAINER HK HQ. Her buildings have an amorphous, otherworldly quality that defy the very essence of a “structure.” The Jockey Club Innovation Tower in HK Polytechnic University is no exception. Rising like a spaceship in the middle of what’s mostly a red-brick type of campus, this gleaming edifice dissolves a typical building’s podium and tower into one, seamless superstructure. Its fluidity is its most outstanding feature, which also extends to what’s inside. Rooms, open spaces and escalators are placed in unusual ways that surprisingly foster better flow and a greater sense of intimacy.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the MTR to Hung Hom station. From there, simply follow the signs to The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Daniel Libeskind | Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre
18 Tat Hong Avenue, Kowloon
Polish-American starchitect Daniel Libeskind is perhaps best known for his Jewish Museum in Berlin as well as masterplanning the World Trade Center site (formerly known as Ground Zero). The Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre at the City University of Hong Kong is a geometric masterpiece that celebrates shape, asymmetry and architectural dynamism. The building’s most prominent feature is a central, spiral staircase with irregular twists that connects all nine floors. Angled windows of various shapes and sizes throw intersecting bands of natural light that slice through the ceiling.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the MTR to Kwun Tong station. Find Exit C to Festival Walk; take Exit C2. Find Shop LG1-10, take the escalator next to it, which brings you to a pedestrian subway leading to CityU.
I.M. Pei | Bank of China Tower
1 Garden Road, Central
Can you think of any, other building which, if you show anyone who’s not from here, will be immediately recognised as “Hong Kong”? The Bank of China Tower is perhaps our skyline’s most iconic figure. Chinese–American architect I.M. Pei, also responsible for the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, has his mastery of prismatic façades on full display here. The BOC Tower’s even more impressive at night when diagonal bolts of light zig-zag across the building’s torso, evoking bamboo’s sectioned trunk reaching higher and higher with each new growth. The building is best appreciated from Chater Garden or on the upper level of a tram.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the MTR to Central station and get out at Exit J2. Pass through Chater Garden and walk towards Garden Road.
Frank Gehry | Opus Hong Kong
53 Stubbs Road
When Frank Gehry completed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, it turned a struggling industrial town into a cultural hotspot. So much so that this phenomenon came to be known as the “Guggenheim effect.” Opus Hong Kong is Gehry’s first residential building in Asia. I had the incredible luck to have been invited to a dinner here at the British Consul-General’s residence – the prize a friend of mine won in a charity auction. Each apartment has a series of balconies conceived as ‘boat decks.’ And because the building’s helical torso twists and seems to undulate above verdant hills, every home has a layout and panoramic view all its own. The building also boasts other innovative features, such as rainwater recycling for irrigation and electric car charge systems.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the MTR to Admiralty station. Get out at the transport terminus and take a taxi to Stubbs Road. This is an exclusive residential tower, which means lots of security. Get close enough to appreciate the Opus’ unique architectural details, but far enough to capture photos of the building in full.