Saturday, 21 April 2012

Visit to the Centennial Campus Site

The Development of the Centennial Campus/…..continued

A few days ago, I posted a commentary about the start of the University of Hong Kong’s project to create a new Centennial Campus, needed to accommodate the 25% increase in student numbers that will arrive in September.

Works to relocate the clean water and brown water reservoirs was completed during the summer of 2009 and works to build the new campus began straight away.

To recap, the campus building consists of 3 towers to be occupied by 3 of the University’s 10 Faculties, Law, Arts and Social Sciences, with common space on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

A total of 42,000sqare metres of space is being created.

The building currently looks like this (through my hotel window!!) this aspect of the building looks over the valley to the harbour.  The first occupants are due to start to move in next week.

View of new Campus from the Harbour
On Friday I was able to have a short tour of some of the spaces.

The entrance to the building compound is on the mountainside of the site .

Entrance to site compound
The first thing to note is the amount of activity being undertaken, I am not sure that I have ever been on such as huge site before and the sheer volume of people, supplies and machinery in site is incredible.  There are at least 1,000 operatives working on site every day

Materials on site

Machinery on site
The weather on Friday was very bad, with severe rain and thunderstorms, so access to spaces and conditions on site were poor which is why the visit was limited.  However, it was still possible to see some interesting areas.

The ground floor of the building consists of three courtyards that will be viewable from the learning commons and other accommodation. 

Information Commons overlooking one of the courtyards
Terracotta tile detail being plied to the external facia
 Each courtyard will have a different theme, with different planting schemes.

Area being prepared for deep and shallow planting
Overlooking one of the courtyards is the new, purpose built 350 seat Moot Room. 

Law Moot Room, external view
The external walls will be clad in terracotta tiles, which is a theme used throughout the entire building, both internally and externally.  The fittings for the tiles are now in place, creating an interesting feature of their own.

Fixings for external tiling
Also on the ground floor will be a number of areas dedicated to Student lockers, these have been created using terracotta tiled alcoves around the space

Student Locker Alcoves
Travel through the building has been arranged in a number of ways.
Lifts and stairways will take staff and students to and from space within the towers, but for the Information Commons and Teaching spaces, a number of feature glass, steel and concrete staircases have been built.

One of a number of feature staircases
In addition, escalators are provided to carry traffic through the high traffic areas

One of a number of escalators

There are some heritage buildings on the site that are being protected and which will be refurbished as part of the project scheme.

This is the old Water Authority Senior common Room, it will be become the University Press Showroom

Proposed University Press Showroom
And this is the equivalent of the Junior Common Room which will become a Heritage Visitor Centre.

Proposed Heritage Centre

These two buildings will be at the new entrance to the campus, a new pathway will be built between them, bringing staff and students into campus from the new MTR Station also currently under construction.

It is interesting to see that bamboo scaffolding is being used for much of the internal construction, for example, within the lecture theatres.

Fresh stocks of green bamboo are readily available.

Fresh supplies of Bamboo

This is the view from the new campus back to the main campus.  A new “University Street” will be built to create a quick and convenient path between the two sites

This is an area of the street under construction

The Audio Visual contractors have just been appointed, 2 companies will share the responsibility to deliver 85 seminar rooms, classrooms and lecture theatres in time for the start of familiarisation and orienting for staff during August.

Two classroom spaces have been set up in the basement area in order to test and confirm the room requirements. The smaller room was locked, but the lecture theatre space was available.

Test classroom featuring glass writing board

Each of the rooms will have a piece of bespoke artwork which will feature the identities of the University and Hong Kong, showing what is special about both.

Feature Image on Glass Panel

The feature is an image printed on film, them placed onto glass.  The interior designer has created a number colour schemes and image designs with the intention that a colour or an image will only be repeated on a maximum of 3 occasions.

A further visit has been arranged for next week where it should be possible to get into the classrooms, lecture theatres and information commons.


  1. It all looks very interesting Toni and the end result will no doubt look good. I have to say though that the building site looked rather messy and that H&S didn't look a major issue over there. As for the bamboo scaffolding, I remember a company here in the North East, Wm Leech (House builders) used wooden scaffolding for a very long time during the '60's and '70's :-) Regards, Az

  2. Hi Az,

    I must confess to agreeing with you, as building sites go, it certainly does not comply with UK building regs for site management. Although I was desperate to get on site and see what progress had been made since February, I wouldn't have been allowed access in the UK. But, that is one of the really interesting things about this, the rules of engagement are completely different on all levels contractural.

    Apparently the bamboo scaffold erectors enter competitions creating structures of beauty from their bamboo scaffold poles!!

    Bet wishes


  3. Toni, my goodness that is what you call a project!
    It's interesting to see how they are developing space and I must say I like the whole glass wall. We've done a lot of work around the use of glass writing surfaces in classrooms and it's nice to see others using the approach so dramatically. Will be taking that image with me to our next Learning Spaces meeting. Hope the trip is still going well and looking forward to catching up in Hull.


  4. Hi Simon, Yes, no half measures here, this is a mammoth project, if I am allowed to call it that with "Lubya" being in town!! you will have noticed that they are using green glass rather than optical white, this is simply due to cost, and with 85 rooms, I guess it makes a significant difference to the overall cost.

    See you soon!