The Hong Kong Kai Tak airport is located in a suburban area in Hong Kong and used to be the region's international airport until the late 1990s. The facility was constructed in 1925 in an unusual region surrounded by mountains where flight takeoffs and landings were challenging. The suburb was later highly populated and buildings raised near the airfields. Planes would pass very close to the structures before they land on the airstrips. In 1998, the airport was shut down and was succeeded by the current International Airport of Hong Kong built on the Chek Lap Kok island.
The old airport will now undergo a huge transformation as a multi-use skyscraper will be established in the middle of the facility. The tower will be about 200 meters tall and is set to be completed by 2022. An interesting fact is that the buildings that surround the area are relatively short due to height restrictions imposed as a safety measure for the airport. Hence, the new tower will contrast the existing infrastructure.
The new facility aims at changing the urban development of the suburb which deteriorated over the 2 two decades after the closure of the airport. It will feature office floors, commercials and recreational facilities including shops, art exhibitions, a restaurant, rooftop gardens and an outdoor space. Plans for establishing a hotel have also been made.
Innovative applications will also be installed in the skyscraper. Firstly, it will have natural ventilation and its facade will be made of materials that protect from solar radiation. In particular, it will be designed to be curved and will consist of fluted glass. Moreover, a system capable of sorting and storing water (using also rainfall water) will be developed. Finally, the base of the building will provide additional space so that it can accommodate the high anticipated pedestrian traffic. The tower will be located near a subway station and will probably be crowed.
The design of the building is handled by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm based in New York and Oslo. The architectural approach will honor the history of the former international airport. "In the design process, it was important to us to be respectful of and contribute to the preservation of the collective memory of many Hongkongers..." Robert Greenwood, the company's managing director in Asia, stated.
The 47-story tower will be realized at a cost of about $4.12 billion. The skyscraper is part of a great endeavor to re-develop the iconic airport region. The project also includes the establishment of parks, schools, squares and a hospital in the vicinity of the site.