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Architecture in Hong Kong is extremely diverse and even you come from another metropolis on Earth, you can always find something new in Hong Kong.
The policy to boost land values, high population density and a late awareness on local heritage in Hong Kong have forced many historical buildings to give way for new highrises, hence the cityscape of Hong Kong is now principally formed by post-war modern architecture.
The Central District, where office rent tops world rankings, is an endless feast of glass-walled skyscrapers. One of the best-known buildings is Ieoh Ming Pei’s Bank of China Tower,
completed in 1990 and currently Hong Kong’s third tallest skyscraper. It drew controversy as locals speculated its sharp angles facing the former Governor's House was intentionally designed to pose an negative Feng-shui effect.
The HSBC Headquarters Building, a masterpiece by British architect Sir Norman Foster, was completed in 1985 when it was said to be then most expensive bank building. It's hollow structure allowed natural light to be reflected through the building and the entire steel structure was said to be relocatable. Visit the head offices of the two largest banks of Hong Kong at Queens Road.
Hong Kong’s tallest building is the International Finance Centre (or IFC Two) (2003) located by the Central harbourfront, at 1,362 feet. Previously the tallest building had been Central Plaza (1994) located at Wanchai, at more than 1,220 feet.
Do not miss the "mothers" of skyscrapers in Hong Kong. While the first one, former HSBC Headquarter, had been pulled down for the steel-and-glass beast, the old headquarters of Bank of China (1950) standing next to it coudl give you some idea how earliest modern office buildings in Hong Kong looked. Note the granite it used throughout the outer wall was sourced from Hong Kong.
Tak Shing Building (1958) in Central was Hong Kong's first building to feature a full glass-wall facade, which could be a pioneer in Asia too. The first building in the world to feature the same technoloy was Lever House in New York (1952). You can find it opposite to Worldwide Plaza across the tramway.
With the bulk of buildings squeezing into the narrow coastal land along Hong Kong Island, it might take some time to recognize the "tallest buildings". The uniqueness of Hong Kong's architecture is not becasue it has one outstanding masterpiece, but how different high-rise combine into one spectacular cityscape.
A new highrise called the International Commerce Centre (ICC) stood over Kowloon Station, located west of Tsim Sha Tsui in teh southwest tip of Kowloon peninsula. It will feature Hong Kong's first public viewing deck on a skyscrapers, due to open in 2010.
To capture the buildings in best angles, either you need a super wideangle lens or take it from the oppsite side of harbour or over a ferry.
Hong Kong is also famed for the Tong Lau buildings in less devloped urban areas like Sheung Wan and Sham Shui Po, and mix-used buildings in the more local shopping area like Causeway Bay and Mongkok. They look shabby and stingy about paints, largely due to inadequate building regulations in 50s to 70s and poor sense of civic awareness, but they also reflected how architecture could be designed to accomodate the flocks of mainland immigrants fled to Hong Kong after 1949.
A visit to large private and public housing estates also give you a good sense of how Hong Kong people are making use of their limited space and how public facilities were designed for residents.
Private estates are usually considered to be favoured by middle-class, proably because of the residents' club, of better security and maintenance or convenient transport access. More recent estates tended to look more upscale regardless of its location as part of its marketing campaign--chandelier in the lobby and European classicism decorations on the outside are common features.
Over half of the local population live in public estates in Hong Kong, which rents are set to a fraction of the market price--except those who had bought back their flats in a special scheme introduced years ago. The form of public housing is essentially rigid and dull, but flats built in recent years are larger in size and better equipped. Only shopping malls and limited recreational facilitie are built in public estates.
It is worthwhile to pay a trip to the outlying islands or villages in Yuen Long. The packed and overwhelming three-storey houses are a result of rigid regulations however the rural atmosphere can definitely set you far apart from the bustling downtown.
Hong Kong is not the right place for heritage buildings and you should be able to get the best checklist from most guidebooks.
Tourists who do not come from big cities will be amazed at the wide array of architecture in Hong Kong, from the ultra dirty and dilapidated to the cutting edge and modern- Hong Kong has it all.