Author: Alexander Petrounine
Professors: Patrick Hwang- Stefano Milani
The site for the studio is located in the New Development Area (NDA) in the Northeast New Territories (NENT) of Hong Kong, at the intersection between the City of Fanling and the farmland, providing a bipolarity field of forces: in-between rural and urban enclaves of constituency groups (organic-framers, meat packers, soya-producers, craftsmen and start-up entrepreneurs) positions at close proximity. Notwithstanding this exceptional characteristic of the place, government planning for NDA follows prototypical Hong Kong development guided primarily through the approach of tabula rasa, real estate dominance, economic prioritization and infrastructural efficiency, such that the productive tension emanating from the conflicting forces will be eradicated once the development is realized.
The proposal for the studio is a reinterpretation of the Municipal Services Building (MSB) typology. An all-in-one public building which serves the needs of the city. The essence of the MSB is its hybrid nature in which it complies to the demands of the city; with functions such as a wet-market and cooked-food stalls, a library, a gymnasium and other. The programme is strongly defined by the district in which it is situated. Despite its public prominence, the MSB is highly overlooked.
The project is located on the Ng Tung River, between the towns of Fanling and the indigenous village of Wa Shan Tsuen. The site is dominated by spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, the nature, the city and in the distance the sky-scraping icons of Shenzhen.
At the river, the urban fabric of the city meets the rural conditions of the indigenous village. These two contexts are currently being divided by the river, which being located on the threshold between the expansive concrete jungle, and the natural jungle – served to heighten my interest in an expansive social architecture and fuelled my desire to create a space where the diversity of the city would be increased by creating a literal intersection for both sides of the river, a lookout point with expansive views, an architecture which would shelter programs such as performance spaces, café, library, multi-purpose sports hall as well as an open, public plaza where people would gather and enjoy various events.
The large surface area of the roof enables the green landscape from the Wa Shan Tsuen to be continued within the city, providing a public park and a place for farmers to reclaim a piece of their land. The slope of the park rises up towards the mountains, which can be seen without any disturbance of the concrete jungle. A podium among nature.
The building’s relationship with the existing topography and the riverbank heavily informed my approach to this project. The structure embeds itself among the two contexts, becoming a bridge between the two communities. The public plaza is where the two paths meet. The programme is organised along a spine which dictates the main circulation of the bridge. The project plays a bigger role than just a connector or a path leading to something else. It’s a destination, which would anticipate the multiple steams of people at different heights, in relation to the riverbank and the two different contexts in which the building is situated among.