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Q: Compare and contrast the development of architectural styles seen in today’s London & Hong Kong’s skylin The world is constantly developing historically and culturally and so with this, the architectural world develops alongside. I shall be discussing the development of architecture styles seen in today’s London & Hong Kong’s skylines. I personally decided to pick these two different places because I was born and raised in the UK but I’m from a Chinese background therefore from a young age I would travel back to Hong Kong to visit family, being able to travel from a young age as allowed me to see how architecture has developed over time. This has sparked my interest for this topic, seeing how architecture from two different places change and develop overtime. Both countries were once related as Hong Kong was once a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War, and had become under the British ruling in the 1950’s because of the colonization Hong Kong has been described as “When East Meets West” as Hong Kong is located in the Southern Coast of China so Hong Kong reflects the cultural mixes of the Chinese roots and the influences of the British colonies ruling, This was when we saw a huge change in the architecture in Hong Kong as architecture in Hong Kong was previously heavily influenced by Chinese architects, this meant that the building designs were heavy influenced by Chinese/traditional arts making the architecture in Hong Kong appear very dated/different to the architectural style seen in Britain but during the ruling of the British Empire we saw the influences of the Victorian and Edwardian architecture styles being introduced to Hong Kong’s architecture in the Mid-19th Century. Even the red iconic post boxes were also seen around in Hong Kong but ever since they re-gained their independence they have now been painted green. During the British ruling we saw a huge increase in Hong Kong’s population as many people desired to live under the British ruling as they believed it could give them a better life, making Hong Kong a very dense city with not enough land to accommodate everyone therefore they began to build taller buildings so it could accommodate more people and save space. These buildings were called “Tong Lau” these were typically three to four storeys [1] which had a mixture of Chinese & British architectural designs, the ground floor was usually a shop space, and above it would be apartments with balconies, although most of these “Tong Lau’s” have been [2] demolished some of still exist in Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong had regained their independence in 1997, we can see the changes and the development in Hong Kong’s skyline from the years of the British Empires ruling. During the ruling of the British Empire Hong Kong was called ‘Modern Hong Kong’ as they saw a growth of the economy and also changes and developments made in Hong Kong, For example: The development of architectural styles. The first ever skyscraper was built in 1936 for HongKongBank but has now


been replaced by HSBC’s headquarters in1985 and Hong Kong has many more skyscrapers built since. The image showing HongKongBank you can tell it made many influences from Traditional Chinese buildings the roof shape was similarly seen on palace roofs. Hong Kong has many buildings standing over 35metres and has the most skyscrapers above 150metres than any other city in the world, With its constantly developing skyline Hong Kong’s skyline has been considered as one of the best skylines in the world, with the surrounding mountains and the Victoria Harbour complimenting the skyline, Currently counting Hong Kong has 1223 skyscrapers standing. [3]

1880’s

[3]

1920-30’s

[3]

1972

[4]

Present


Moving on to London’s architecture London’s style of architecture is definitely different to the style we’ve seen in Hong Kong’s architectural style. Architecture in London has definitely changed over time. Architecture in London was generally low rise. This meant that taller buildings were restricted from being built on certain sites this was because of a Building Act that was passed in 1894 to protect the views of buildings such as St Pauls Cathedral therefore it limited heights of Primary Image buildings on certain sites, this meant that taller buildings such as Canary Wharf was recognised from the distant in the skyline. This Building Act was lifted in the 1960’s therefore taller buildings were beginning to be introduced to the skyline ever since. The most recent addition to London’s skyline is The Shard which is Located in Southwark, South-East London and was officially opened in February 2012. The Shard stands at an impressive height of 310 metres and has 72storeys and currently holds the record for being the tallest building in the European Union. However when the design of The Shard was revealed it received mixed reactions as the design was very bold, the concept behind The Shards design was a broken piece of glass sticking out from the ground therefore it was also referred as “The Shard of Glass”[5]. [7] Another building that has recently grasped the public’s attention is “20 Fenchurch Street” which is a commercial skyscraper which has been nicknamed as the “Walkie-Talkie” [6] because of the top heavy shape it has which is similar to the shape of a Walkie-Talkie, this building is still under construction and is due to finish in early 2014, it was recently criticised because of the design as it overshadows the views of [8] the historical sites and the problems it caused during summer 2013. Due to the angle of the top heavy shaped building the light reflecting off the building Is claimed 6 times brighter than direct sunlight, causing problems for cars parked on the streets below as they would melt from the high levels of heat. When it comes to a particular or specific architectural style, London doesn’t necessary have a specific style when it comes to architecture. London’s architecture is collection of buildings built from different time periods; this means that we can see older/historical buildings such as St. Pauls Cathedral, Tower of London etc. We can also see more modern/contemporary buildings such as The Shard, Canary Wharf, The Gherkin and many more. This is because of the Building Act that was


passed in the UK which helps protect the historical buildings from being demolished therefore we can see more old/historical buildings appear in London’s skyline. Steel is very important to the UK as it’s a very common building material that is used in the UK for building structures. Steel was more widely available after the industrial revolution which was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the time period from about 1760’s to sometime between 1820’s and 1840, this transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes. The production of steel was an expensive commodity and was only used where iron wouldn’t do. The second industrial revolution began around 1850 although a method for mass manufacture of steel was not invented until 1860s. Steel became more widely used in the early 20th Century, this is because the uses of steel became more popular during the World War II and the availability of steel increased after the war. Steel is a very popular building material because of its properties; it’s a cost efficient material and is also energy efficient, making it a “green” product as any excess material can be 100% recycled. It also improves the quality of production and also has improved safety and resistance compared to other building materials such as wood. Steel frames are usually associated with “Skeleton Frame” [9] which is a building technique made up of vertical steel columns and horizontal beams which are constructed in a rectangular grid to support the floors, roof and walls of a building and they are all attached to the frame, using this technique it made the construction of skyscrapers possible, Therefore steel plays an important part to the UK’s building industry as it helped construct taller buildings, because steel became more widely available after the World Ward it contributes to why taller buildings were finally being introduced to a low rise city. Both cities have their own unique style [10] and skyline, some style or architecture has been influenced by the other, but the architecture in both cities is very different. One cause of the difference between the architectural styles seen is the cities locations. They are located on the opposite sides of the globe from each other, London is the Capital city of England which is in the United Kingdom, Which is in Europe whereas Hong Kong is located in China which is in Asia two cities from completely different continents which have different cultures and languages and different ways/methods and beliefs which affect how they live their life and all these different factors influences the architectural style as the architecture is catered to their lives and specific needs. A huge different we can see visually see from the two different places is that one city is much denser than the other, Hong Kong has a huge population of 7 Million people with a land space of 420Sqmi, making it a very populated and dense city, this caused many problems for living spaces in Hong Kong as they were very limited with the space they had and have such as huge population to home,


therefore the most efficient way to accommodate the population was to building more apartments as one block of apartments can accommodate many families whereas houses can only accommodate one family. Although this was the best solution to accommodate the population housing prices are very expensive, according to The Telegraph prices for Hong Kong housing are £12201 per sq. m. [11] ranking 3rd most expensive city to purchase a property in the world. Some of the less fortunate can only afford to live in a room with metal cages that are stacked on top of another cage which costs $1300 Hong Kong dollars which is the equivalent to £105 a month. Whereas London has a larger land space of 606.95sqmi with a population of 8 Million people, although London has a larger population it also has larger land making it less dense. London doesn’t have as many skyscrapers as Hong Kong because of The Building Act which was previously mentioned, this protects and avoids obstructing views of buildings such as St Pauls Cathedral, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey etc. which was lifted in the 1960’s ever since we began to see the taller buildings being introduced to London’s skyline. Another difference that we can visually see in both cities is the historical/older buildings that are visible in London’s skyline, The Building Act that was passed in the UK also protects the historical buildings, therefore the historical buildings cannot be destroyed/demolished this is why we are able to see buildings from over a long time period in London’s skyline. Whereas in Hong Kong’s skyline it appears to be a very modern city however there are still older part of the city that remain we have been concealed by all the new and modern buildings. Small villages and Tong Lau’s still exist in Hong Kong however the numbers keep decreasing as large companies invest money into the older parts of Hong Kong so they can develop it into apartments, shopping centres, [12] casinos etc. making small business slowly close down and forcing homeowners to move. Despite of the demolition of the older parts of the city Hong Kong still have a few historical buildings remaining. One of these historical buildings is Tsim Sha Tsui Clock tower which is shown in the photo, Central Police Station and the remains of Kowloon walled city and they were all constructed during the 19th & early 20th Century. Hong Kong Skyline [13]

London Skyline [14]


As a part of my coursework I had to create an editorial and my editorial had to be based on a location and the location I chose was London. This allowed me to explore London and see the architecture as we had to record primary images. While exploring London it allowed me to see the architecture how the old architecture mixes with the modern. Looking at the structures of Historical/Modern sites and the materials they used to create the building. The modern buildings use steel structures and typically have a glass based material as an exterior pattern, however on the other hand the older buildings use different materials, for example St. Pauls Cathedral was built from Limestone. This was a popular building material back when the Cathedral was built as it had a pleasant appearance which could be finished with a polish giving the exterior a smooth shiny surface, however it can get damaged due to weather. Being able to explore and see the different buildings allowed me to understand the importance of design and how it develops to help us and how it is specifically made to our needs. Buildings are designed to enhance lifestyles of those who use them. Here are some examples of the editorial work I did.

To conclude I shall share my point of view on this topic, living in London it has definitely allowed me to see how architecture has developed, for example Stratford which is in East London was the location for the 2012 Olympic games growing up in the local area it allowed me to see the transformation in the area how it quickly became a tourist destination during the Olympic games and also the addition of Westfield Stratford City which is one of the largest urban shopping centres in Europe & 3rd largest in the UK this has made Stratford a popular place to visit. Compared to Hong Kong the development of architecture took longer to develop however the city developed rapidly once the economy went up. However London has many historical buildings to offer which I think Hong Kong lacks as being able to see buildings over different time periods show how the city has grown from past to present, showing how much it has developed. Which is disappointing for Hong Kong as parts of the city’s history is getting destroyed. Although Hong Kong has an impressive modern skyline the roots of the city’s history will eventually all be knocked down, but without the boost of the British Empires ruling I don’t think Hong Kong would have had a chance to develop as much as it did as we saw how dated the architecture appeared in Hong Kong. This makes the city’s skyline more unique as it had influences of two countries how it keeps their Chinese roots but uses the British influences for more modern designs. Everyone thinks about the future and replacing the old with the new which is the same for architecture, when buildings get old they tend to place it with a more ‘modern’ or up to date building wiping out history with only photography evidence


remaining, but the world is constantly developing and so do we as we develop alongside, therefore as long as the world develops we do too as buildings are designed to enhance lifestyles of those who use them.

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Hong_Kong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tong_lau http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Grade_I_historic_buildings_in_Hong_Kong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Grade_II_historic_buildings_in_Hong_Kong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Grade_III_historic_buildings_in_Hong_Kong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_London [1]:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HK_ShanghaiStreet_CantoneseVerandahTypePrewarSh ophouses.JPG [2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HSBC_1936.jpg [3]: http://hongwrong.com/hong-kong-skyline-through-the-years/ [4]: http://kenhtravel.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/hong-kong-skyline-beautiful-attrition.html [5]:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shard [6]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20_Fenchurch_Street [7]: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/9794462/Inside-The-View-from-TheShard.html?frame=2448728 [8]: http://londonist.com/2007/07/walkie_talkie_w.php [9]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel_frame [10]: http://media.gizmodo.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/image.jpeg [11]: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/propertypicturegalleries/8892109/In-picturesThe-worlds-20-most-expensive-cities-to-buy-property.html?image=17 [12]: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/62900332 [13]: http://photoblog.amarquardt.de/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/HK_Pano_s2.jpg [14]:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/London_skyline_2012_panora ma.jpg

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