The Jockey Club Innovation Tower is home to PolyU's School of Design and is the new driving force in the development of Hong Kong as a design hub in Asia.
The Tower is located at the northeastern tip of the university campus. Construction work began in 2009 and the whole project was completed in August, 2013. It has 15,000 square metres of net floor area and can accommodate about 1,800 staff and students. It houses a lecture hall, 10 classrooms, design studios and workshops, as well as exhibition spaces and a communal viewing lounge.
“The fluid character of the Innovation Tower is generated through an intrinsic composition of its landscape, floor plates and louvers that dissolves the classic typology of the tower and the podium into an iconic seamless piece. These fluid internal and external courtyards create new public spaces of an intimate scale which complement the large open exhibition forums and outdoor recreational facilities to promote a diversity of civic spaces.” - Zaha Hadid, Architect, Innovation Tower
Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) is an architect who consistently pushes the boundaries of architecture and urban design. Her work experiments with new spatial concepts intensifying existing urban landscapes in the pursuit of a visionary aesthetic that encompasses all fields of design, ranging from urban scale through to products, interiors and furniture. Best known for her seminal built works (Vitra Fire Station, Land Formation-One, Bergisel Ski-Jump, Strasbourg Tram Station, the Rosenthal Centre for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, the Hotel Puerta America (interior) in Madrid, the Ordrupgaard Museum Extension in Copenhagen, and the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg), her central concerns involve a simultaneous engagement in practice, teaching and research.
Hadid studied architecture at the Architectural Association from 1972 and was awarded the Diploma Prize in 1977. She then became a partner of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, taught at the AA with OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, and later led her own studio at the AA until 1987. Since then she held the Kenzo Tange Chair at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; the Sullivan Chair at the University of Illinois, School of Architecture, Chicago; guest professorships at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg; the Knolton School of Architecture, Ohio and the Masters Studio at Columbia University, New York. In addition, she was made Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Fellow of the American Institute of Architecture and Commander of the British Empire, 2002. She is currently Professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria and was the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
PolyU is an urban endeavor by virtue of addition and growth over the last 70 years. The rich patchwork of various faculties, communities and facilities are strung together by a community of visually coherent yet different buildings. From a process of outward expansion, the PolyU is now looking inwards to develop itself by making creative use of its remaining void on the northern side of the campus. The Innovation Tower aims to use these voids to create an accessible urban space which will transform how the PolyU is perceived and the way it will be used. The building unashamedly aims to stimulate and protect a vision-of-possibilities for its future, as well as reflect the history of the PolyU by encapsulating in its architecture the process of change.
The vision of the Jockey Club Innovation Tower presents a unique opportunity to reexamine and address a creative, multidisciplinary environment. The design concept, in its first instance, collects the variety of programs of the school. Having undergone a strict process of examination of the multiple relationships amongst their unique identities they have been arranged in accordance to their ‘collateral flexibilities’.
Priority lies in the drawing in of the campus staff, students and public into a welcoming new space that acts as both the building’s entrance and organizer for the existing complex. Podium level of the new Innovation Tower is established as an open public foyer that channels deep into the building through a column-free, open showcase forum.
The long integrated path from Suen Chi Sun Memorial Square guides visitors to the main entrance and from here, a generous and welcoming space openly provides access to supporting facilities (such as shops, cafeteria and museum) through its generous series of open exhibitions and ‘showcase spaces’.
From the entry foyer, a long escalator penetrates deep upwards through openly glazed void to teaching spaces above. The myriad of workspaces accommodated within the new building offer themselves as a variety of visual showcases. The route through the building becomes a clear upward cascade of showcases and events allowing the student or visitor to visually covet and engage work and exhibits throughout its circulation passage. These routes aim to promote new opportunities of interaction between the diverse types of users through its spaces on every level. Voids bring in natural daylight, fresh air and the sense of continuity of space. In this way, the programmes of the tower, which comprise of learning clusters and central facilities, are allowed to create coordinated repertoires and dialogue between respective volumes of space.
All of us pass by buildings, enter buildings, live and work in buildings. Products of the construction industry affect everyone and a decision is therefore needed in each project about the extent to which people outside the immediate scope should be involved. For the Innovation Tower project, this is one of the purposes of consultation with prospective end-users: to undergo a process taking into account of the environment and potential impact that it will have on the new school of design and the campus as a whole. Because so many people are affected in so many different ways, it is important to develop approaches which take account of some of these affects. Feedback from progressive iterations would shed light and enhance development in so that the Innovation Tower responds effectively to its environment.