Transforming the former Kai Tak Airport district into a thriving urban centre
On the 25th closing anniversary of the famed Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong comes Snøhetta Asia’s latest project in the city – AIRSIDE, a LEED Platinum-certified mixed-use landmark that will be a gateway for a bustling redeveloped business district. The design weaves generous public spaces and gardens through a series of exterior plazas and rooftop landscapes suited for urban farming, restaurants, events, and recreation. The development incorporates a number of unprecedented sustainability practices, making it the first in Hong Kong to receive five of the highest green building certifications.
▼建筑概览，Overall view of the building © Kevin Mak
With views over Victoria Harbour and the Kai Tak River, the 177,670-square-metre project merges a 213-metre-tall tower with a second tower and its base in a continuous form. Set atop the Kai Tak MTR station, the design extends the urban landscape into the architecture itself, creating direct access between pedestrian transit areas, retail spaces at the tower’s base, and elevated garden landscapes.
▼鸟瞰，Aerial view © Kevin Mak
Creating a vibrant public realm and neighbourhood anchor
The building mass comprises five interconnected volumes that gradually step up from the Kai Tak River, lending the 213-metre tall tower an inviting presence at ground level. The building’s sculpted forms shape a series of human-scale urban spaces at ground level, and rooftop gardens with commanding views of Victoria Harbour and Kai Tak. Landscaped plazas ring the architecture, further integrating it into the surroundings and creating an engaging pedestrian realm. Both the tower and the base gently step down towards the southernmost corner, revealing the rooftops to the surrounding plaza and riverside promenade to create a sense of interconnection between them. The pedestrian landscape and plaza designs were conceived as folds generated from the twisting of the building masses on the urban fabric. Gently sloping walkways and plazas bend through the project, creating inviting pedestrian landscapes that interweave different species and colours of plants, many of them native species.
▼丰富的本地植物营造出更宜人的公共空间，The abundance of native plants creates a more pleasant public space © Kevin Mak
▼屋顶花园，Rooftop gardens © Kevin Mak
裙楼顶部有一个宽敞的高架花园，包含建筑的中央中庭，形成了一个标志性的公共空间，可以俯瞰周围的环境，拥有充足的座位、水景和种植区。 在其下方，位于建筑的中心，是一个 60,000 平方米的多层商业中庭，充满自然光线，创造了一个宽敞的社区聚会和社交空间。高架花园之上矗立着一座包含11万平方米甲级办公空间的塔楼。连同附近正在建设的文化和休闲设施，该建筑将成为该地区的一个锚点和公共地标，有助于吸引初创企业、创意企业和老牌企业。
A generous elevated garden tops the podium containing the building’s central atrium, creating a signature public space that overlooks the surroundings with ample seating, water features, and planted areas. Below it, at the heart of the building, is a 60,000 square-metre multi-story retail atrium filled with natural light, creating a spacious community gathering and social space. Rising above the elevated garden is a tower containing 110,000 square metres of grade A office space. Together with nearby cultural and leisure facilities that are currently under construction, the building will become an anchor and public landmark for the area, helping attract start-ups, creative enterprises, and established businesses alike.
▼屋顶花园中的公共空间，The public space in the rooftop garden © Kevin Mak
“这座建筑涵盖了从城市到人类的各种规模：它为每天经过它的成千上万的人塑造了一个有意义的、吸引人的、充满活力的公共领域，同时为天际线带来了一个新的标志，成为城市的焦点。”Snøhetta亚太区合伙人兼总监Robert Greenwood说道。 “这座建筑预示着香港城市景观的这一传奇部分将被重塑为一个充满活力的新社区。”
“The building negotiates scales ranging from the urban to the human: it shapes a meaningful, inviting, and vibrant public realm for the thousands of people that will pass through it each day while bringing a new icon to the skyline and a focal point for the district,” says Robert Greenwood, Partner and Director of Snøhetta’s Asia Pacific region. “The building heralds the reinvention of this storied part of Hong Kong’s cityscape into a dynamic new neighbourhood.”
▼吸引人的步行景观，Inviting pedestrian landscapes © Kevin Mak
Evoking the legacy of the textile industry
Snøhetta’s design concept for the project pays homage to the legacy of the textile industry, making legible the transformation of both the developer, Nan Fung Group, and Hong Kong itself from their focus on textile manufacturing to real estate development, finance, and technology. The entire design, from the landscape to the facade, massing and interiors, evokes aspects of textiles and tailoring as qualities of fabrics through design moves like weaves, folds, tears, and cuts. The massing of the building, with its chamfered slices, nods to the tearing and cutting involved in textile manufacturing. Its facade is composed of gently curved fluting glass, creating a visual effect that recalls the sinuous drapes and folds of fabric. In the tower lobby, a custom-designed lighting installation with a weave-like pattern extends across the ceiling.
▼建筑立面概览，Overall view of the building facade © Kevin Mak
▼建筑立面肌理，Textures of the building facade © Kevin Mak
▼入口广场的金属装置与大堂内呼应，The metal installation in the entrance plaza echoes the interior of the lobby © Kevin Mak
The retail atrium features spandrels clad with a custom-designed woven textile made from upcycled plastic from over 100,000 post-consumer bottles, referencing the manufacturing history of Nan Fung and Hong Kong and embracing the 21st-century ethos of sustainable production.
▼大厅内定制设计的照明装置具有编织状图案，A custom-designed lighting installation with a weave-like pattern © Kevin Mak
▼照明装置延伸至天花板，The lighting installation extends across the ceiling © Kevin Mak
▼大堂侧立面概览，Overall view of the lobby facade © Kevin Mak
▼天花的装置使大堂空间更具张力，The ceiling device adds tension to the lobby space © Kevin Mak
New sustainability standards
AIRSIDE is designed to the highest sustainability standards and is the first private development in Hong Kong to be awarded five of the highest green building certifications. The roof and podium levels host over 1,350 square metres of photovoltaic (PV) farms with walkable PV panels—the largest PV farm of any commercial building in Hong Kong. It is the first commercial development to link to the Kai Tak District Cooling System, using chilled seawater distributed from a central plant for climate control. AIRSIDE also features a first-of-its-kind automatic underground bicycle parking system, encouraging green mobility.
▼明亮的多层商业中庭，Multi-story retail atrium filled with natural light © Kevin Mak
Thirty percent of the site is covered in a soft landscape planted largely with native species and includes water features that help counter the urban heat-island effect. The building itself hosts 600 square metres of educational gardens with urban farms. Other sustainable aspects include automated waste sorting and storage systems, design moves that promote natural ventilation and daylighting, solar radiation protection, and rainwater harvesting.
▼中庭内内的编织物同样遵循可持续理念，The woven textile in the atrium are also sustainable © Kevin Mak
▼宽敞的社区聚会和社交空间，Spacious community gathering and social space © Kevin Mak
该项目已获得LEED美国白金认证、BEAM Plus新建建筑最终白金认证、WELL建筑标准白金认证、BEAM Plus邻里白金认证以及中国绿色建筑设计标识三星级认证。该建筑于2023年9月正式启用，并荣获2019年香港绿色建筑奖在建商业建筑大奖。它也是2020年MIPIM Asia Awards 2020最佳未来项目金奖获得者。
The development has been awarded the LEED US Platinum Certification, BEAM Plus New Building Final Platinum Certificate, WELL Building Standard Platinum Certification, BEAM Plus Neighbourhood Platinum Certification, and China Green Building Design Label 3-Star Certification. The building officially opened in September 2023 and received the Grand Award in the Hong Kong Green Building Award 2019 for commercial buildings under construction. It was also the Gold Winner at the 2020 MIPIM Asia Awards 2020 for Best Futura Project.
▼简约优雅的材质把控，Concise and elegant material selection © Kevin Mak
Project Name: AIRSIDE
Timeline: 2017 – 2023
Client: Nan Fung Group
Location: Kai Tak, Hong Kong
GFA: 177,670 m2
Height: 213 m
Status: Completed September 2023
Scope: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture
Programs: Public Space, Workspace, Mixed Use, Retail
Executive architect: Ronald Lu & Partners (Hong Kong) Limited
Structural, geotechnical and civil engineer: Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Limited
Building services engineer: Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Limited / J. Roger Preston Limited
Executive landscape architect: Urbis Limited
Quantity surveyor: Arcadis Hong Kong Limited
Building sustainability engineer: Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Limited
Façade & BMU engineer: Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Limited
Lighting designer: Lighting Planners Associates (HK) Limited
Main contractor: Hip Hing Construction Company Limited