Everyone wants to have an open view of the city. This is especially true in Hong Kong as “Hong Kong [is] one of the most densely populated cities in the world”, says Carlo Ratti, founder of international design firm Carlo Ratti Associati.

Due to the overcrowded environment, Ratti points out that even if this small city has “one of the world’s most stunning skyline … not all of us can enjoy it, [especially people on the lower floors]”.

While it seems to be a far away dream for those living in Hong Kong to capture a piece of the city’s landscape, Carlo Ratti Associati has come up with a hypothetical building design that would allow more people to have access to our beautiful scenery.

In the shape of a standing wedge, the building would not only offer a solution to the lack of great views, it would also fit in perfectly with the government’s green efforts, and might ultimately change the relationship between the building and its surroundings.

The Wedge, as the designer has named it, is like an inverted triangle to “minimise the section of the building which receives less natural light”, Ratti explains. By having most units on the upper levels, more people would be able to enjoy the spectacular view of the city.

Innovation does not end here. The design also brings all lower-floor activities to the rooftop. “Public spaces such as restaurants, shops and halls are too often confined to the ground level. In this project, we envision the top of the building to be an entirely public facility. We are reclaiming the panorama of the city as an urban common”, Ratti says.

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More than just an ordinary garden in the air offering a 360-degree view of the city, the “sky piazza”, paved with grass, focuses on the interaction between the users and the surrounding environment. This is done via hi-tech screens using augmented reality and virtual reality technology.

These interactive surfaces provide visitors with the opportunity to discover Hong Kong in a virtual world through “these augmented, informative and interactive [screens] which demonstrate the potential of a new form of visual language and its capacity to reveal interesting social, economic and mobility patterns”, Ratti says.

Below the rooftop lies an array of functional spaces from solo and shared offices, conference halls to a gym and a coffee bar to meet all needs. Among all, the most significant feature is the semi-outdoor spaces on different levels. Going up from the ground floor to the rooftop, one can find public gardens, terraces and greenhouses which give the tower a distinct image of a suspended park, with the extensive greenery looking like a “green necklace” on the tower. They also serve the practical function of bringing in natural light and extending the outdoor ambience to the indoor space.

This HK$19 million eco-friendly treehouse collects water and regulates temperature

Continuing the eco-friendly principle, the indoor areas are supported by location-based sensors that track users’ locations to allow automatic adjustment of lighting, heating and air-conditioning to save energy. “This is something our office, Carlo Ratti Associati, has been experimenting for several years. The first building to feature these technological solutions will be the Agnelli Foundation headquarters in Turin, Italy. The Wedge would be the first application of such trailblazing technologies on a skyscraper scale”, Ratti says.

With all these ambitious features, the architect hopes “The Wedge will become an iconic landmark and destination for businesses as well as local people”.

Breakdown of Costs:

Structure and Preliminary work: HK$348.7 million

Façade: HK$191.8 million

Landscape and Public Space: HK$87.2 million

MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) and Transport:

HK$139.5 million

Finishes (Lobby, Ground Floor, Lift): HK$191.8 million

Total: HK$959 million

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Multitalented architect Carlo Ratti is the founder of international design firm Carlo Ratti Associati and teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The multiaward-winning firm is based in Turin, Italy, with branches in Boston and London. It is involved in a wide range of international projects, from furniture design to urban planning. To produce architecture “that senses and responds”, the firm looks into the way in which new technologies are changing the environment and daily life, and integrates cutting-edge digital technology into high-profile design.

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