Master Design Studio



A Leisure Center Complex in Sham Shui Po


Francesco Rossini

While the fast growth of online commerce is emphasizing the crisis of traditional forms of shopping, in Hong Kong these climate-controlled mega-structures still remain successful hubs for the leisure time of the citizens. The unique cityscape of Hong Kong is the result of the volumetric expansion of the city over the last forty years. During this transformation, old buildings were redeveloped into modern commercial complexes, and the regeneration process often erased important features of the city’s history.

Due to the intense pressure for urban redevelopment, the demolition of old buildings makes it possible to substantially change the urban morphology the city. Clusters of residential and office towers over 40 stories tall (and typically above a commercial podium) frequently replace dilapidated settlements. At the same time, an integrative development approach has been gaining popularity and the vertical system has become more synergistic. In Hong Kong, the lack of available land for development has determined the intensity of use, with the vertical layering of different functions, especially in the Central Business District, leading to the creation of overlapping circulation flows and generating a variety of unconventional urban spaces..

This fascinating system, that recalls the avant-garde and neo-futuristic vision of Archigram, could create a sort of spatial ambiguity. In Hong Kong the public life takes place, inside or outside the buildings, at 20 meters above ground or at ground level with no apparent distinction.In this complex urban structure the social activities occur most often in the internal spaces of the shopping mall. These mixed-use hubs are based essentially on commercial experiences emphasizing the culture of consumerism, but at the same they offer a place for the collective domain in which a range of functions generate different forms of social interaction. However, there is almost nothing unpredictable in these spaces, the private surveillance of the activities that occur in them raises the question of the capacity of these spaces to become civic places where the public dimension can be fully represented.

The students will investigate the spatial urban form of this cathedral of commerce to leverage new architectural possibilities. The students are encouraged to re-imagine the future scenarios of this complex urban form that offer analytical and critical perspectives on the post-consumerism era of Hong Kong.

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