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 (1950-2016), Architect, Innovation Tower
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.