Location: Hong Kong SAR, China.
The West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong is a symbol of improved relations between Hong Kong and mainland China. The station will connect Hong Kong to Beijing with the largest rail network in history. The 430,000 square meter facility with fifteen tracks will be the largest below ground terminus station in the world. The station will function more like an international airport than a rail station as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region maintains economic and political incentives from P.R.C. The facility needs to have both custom and immigration controls for departing and arriving passengers. West Kowloon Station will have immigration domain for both Hong Kong and China in the same facility, which is highly unusual. The design of the station was motivated by civic demand.
The site’s prominence immediately adjacent to the future West Kowloon Cultural District and next to Victoria Harbor required a design that would connect the station with the surrounding urban context and make one aware that whether arriving or departing – “You are in Hong Kong”. The terminus station has two target destinations: regional commuter trains and long-haul high-speed trains. The commuter trains go across Hong Kong territory to Shenzhen and further to the north to Guangzhou. Research performed on the civil engineering side concluded that the short haul tracks needed to be placed on the western side of the site with the long-haul being located to the eastern side. The locations of these tracks were fixed. The organization of the design was inspired by converging forces all oriented toward Hong Kong. The project maximizes civic gestures both internally and externally. The station is sculpted out of the energy of these moves and strongly defines its motive to open up and focus toward Victoria Harbor and the Hong Kong skyline. The culturally district of WKCD is invited into the site. A large “Civic Square” opens up toward the cultural district and is defined on the other side with its own outdoor performance amphitheatre. The pedestrian flow into this amphitheatre continues up, accessing almost the entire rooftop of the station itself in a highly vegetated sculpture garden and landscaped extension of the green below. The commercial development on top of the station will be auctioned off to a developer in the future. The hope is that this commercial development will eventually be knitted into the overall flow of the project seamlessly and was developed to a point of demonstrating viability. The image of the station will be preserved in the southeast corner of the site. The Civic Square will be defined by station entrances and station facilities on the east and west sides as well as adjacent, accessible paths moving up on top of the station into the green “roofscape”. The culminations of these moves find themselves at an observation deck on top of the crest of the entrance building.
Photo credit: Aedas.