riba awards

Jockey Club Innovation Tower





Jockey Club Innovation Tower Iwan Baan 4 


ARCHITECT: zaha hadid architects

CLIENT: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

AWARDS WON: RIBA Award for International Excellence 

Highly visible from the network of motorways, which almost entirely surround the campus, the idiosyncratic fifteen storey Jockey Club Innovation Tower acts as a beacon for the university and announces itself as an important centre for the development of Hong Kong as a design hub.

This new building for the Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation and the School of Design is poised at the edge of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus on a narrow site between a busy motorway interchange and a sports ground. A series of external vertical and horizontal fins around the entire building, set at irregular intervals and at less than storey heights, confuse the understanding of scale, making the building appear as a homogenous form and taller than it is. Its presence is impressive and it occupies the challenging site extremely well. 

The architectural expression is clearly apart from the grain of the city in this relatively low-rise area of Kowloon. Set against a backdrop of, almost entirely, brick university buildings, the Jockey Club relates well to its neighbours. A strong and beautiful sculptural base, made from in-situ reinforced concrete, mediates between the ground and the upper glazed stories of the tower forming a plinth over two levels, which deals with a series of complex edge conditions providing opportunities for external terraces around the building. The main entrance podium with its over hanging roof comes forward to complete a route through the campus and to welcome the visitor up and into the building, encouraging the university's various faculties to develop multidisciplinary initiatives and engagement with the community, government, industry, NGOs and academia; an important element of the brief. 

The main entrance space is spectacular, leading directly to large exhibition spaces at the same level or immediately, via an escalator, to the lecture theatre on the floor above. The 15,000 m2 of space provides teaching facilities with lecture theatres, classrooms, studios, teaching and research labs, workspace, a resource centre and design gallery as well as office accommodation. The various departments and floors are connected in a fluid composition of interconnecting spaces, internal and external courtyards. Vertical circulation is encouraged via a main large staircase, which connects all the floors around its spatially dynamic void and landings. This is a recognisable 'landmark' in the interior, which organises the building linking the different disciplines, both vertically and horizontally and encouraging social interaction. Studio and workspaces occupy the peripheral zones with exhibition/breakout spaces in the circulation areas between. 

The interior finishes are simple with mostly white painted plaster board surfaces and a painted floor finish which can easily be maintained and is entirely appropriate in a school of design. The building is predominately glazed, giving wonderful views across the city. This is particularly impressive and pertinent in the architecture department on the top floor where there is a sense the studio existing within the full-scale research programme of the city. Architectural investigation in the form of drawings and models are juxtaposed with the urban fabric. 

The main facade of the building is oriented North - South. Solar gain is controlled using a reflective window coating and the overhanging external louvers. To reduce energy usage the building is equipped with a highly efficient water-cooled chiller system, energy efficient lighting as well and occupancy and daylight sensors. 

This is an important addition to Kowloon and has become a recognised landmark. Whilst holding its own in the city, its dynamic form and design has a delicacy which can be appreciated both at the urban scale and close up. 




Structural Engineers: Arup Hong Kong 

Cost Consultant: Rider Levett Bucknall

Acoustic Engineers: Westwood Hong & Associates



COST: confidential

Date Of Occupation: 03/2014


PHOTOGRAPHERS: Iwan Baan, Simon Bertrand, 

Younes Bounhar 

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