Living with Water - Kennedy Town Hong Kong: Hong Kong Interdisciplinary Studio - Spring 2020

Page 1



UC BERKELEY College of Environmental Design Bauer Wurster Hall Berkeley 94720






THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG Faculty of Architecture Knowles Building Pok Fu Lam Rd, Lung Fu Shan Hong Kong



INSTRUCTORS Renee Y. Chow & Tomas McKay STUDENTS Anqi Zhao Cari Hartigan Emiel Cockx Giulia Accurso Safia Dziri Sam Gebb Terrence Ngu Virginia Wong Xinwei Chen Yushi Duan








Introduction - Why Water? Studio Context - Why Kennedy Town? Thinking with Water


Abstract Vertical Water Mechanism Flood Rooms


8 10 16 24

Abstract Confluence Residential Reservoir Weaving Green The Green Know


Abstract Sky Sponge Sponge Living Filtering Sponge to Living in

50 51 56 60 66 72

78 79 86 90 96

28 29 38 44


Water Flows Water Flows in Buildings

102 106




The Greater Bays Urban Resilience by Design initiative is a four-year multi-disciplinary project focused on comparative analysis and design of regions and sites surrounding the Pearl River Delta and the San Francisco Bay. The combination of research seminars and design studios offers a unique collaboration between the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Architecture and the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design. The focus of the research studios and seminars is to improve Pacific Rim urban resilience through urban policy, planning, and design to help these metropolitan regions adapt to climate change by becoming more

energy-efficient and livable for residents. Hong Kong is grappling with the emergent challenges of climate change and potential policy, planning, and design responses, while experts in the Bay Area have also been working to develop design strategies related to resilience. Our objective is to study, speculate, and offer prototypical design strategies in areas of resilience planning and design that hold the potential to move the public discussion forward in both metropolitan regions. This book presents the body of work of the second Interdisciplinary Studio LIVING WITH WATER offered in Spring 2020 at UC Berkeley, led by Renee Y. Chow and Tomas McK-

ay. The studio explored alternative building forms and public spaces part of larger systems that could address the future of water in Hong Kong. The Interdisciplinary Studio was intended to be in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong, but the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted travel for research and exchange. While some of the initial research on potable, seawater, stormwater and blackwater systems were provided by research students in Hong Kong, the joint work is on hold until the summer or fall of 2021.

The research and design Sponsor Contact: Chris Lee collaboration of the work presented in this book is made possible by the THE LUK HOI TONG COMPANY generous support of: Sponsor Contact: Darrell Chan Lead Sponsor NAN FUNG GROUP Sponsor Contact: Ray Zee, Chief Designer and General Manager BLAKE’S Sponsor Contact: Darrin Woo CHUN WO CONSTRUCTION HOLDINGS COMPANY LTD Sponsor Contacts: Derrick Pang, Gary Chou, Edward Yueng FARRON, AUGUSTINE & ALEXANDER LTD

An anonymous private sponsor Our special thanks to Darrell Chan and Ray Zee whose endless energies have honed the directions and potentials of this work. The faculty who led the 20-21 research initiative include: Renee Y. Chow, UCB Tomas McKay, UCB Natalia Echeverri, HKU

Spring 2020 UCB Students: Anqi Zhao Cari Hartigan Emiel Cockx Giulia Accurso Safia Dziri Sam Gebb Terrence Ngu Virginia Wong Xinwei Chen Yushi Duan





Water Flows Through Kennedy Town

Living with Water



“If water is the essential ingredient of life, then water supply is the essential ingredient of civilization.” (David Sedlak, Water 4.0) The history of water management covered and scraped away much of buildings to do more. What can be is the history of the city. Our ability the natural watershed, how do we learned and extended more comto live together in greater proximity increase porosity? The disciplines prehensively into the architecture and density is tied with our ability allied with environmental design of urban fabrics – buildings with to channel both clean and dirty are well ahead of architecture: hystreets, plazas, and parks that work water. Yet, we have never truly drologists, geologists, civil engineers together to manage a variety of been the masters of water. There and landscape architects have not water types and systems? What is have been several evolutions in only studied but made proposals an architecture and urbanism based urban water, and it is clear that that are now policies. The recomon living with water? we need another revolution. After mendations typically use low impact decades of taking water for granted, development techniques. Yet, most we urgently need to reassess its of these proposals depend upon the preciousness and its dangers in a ground plane to decentralize, treat near future of precipitation volatili- and slow water. ty, scarcity, flooding and rising seas. Water scarcity already affects four The effect is heavy dependence on out of every ten people in the world the public realm or distribution of (WHO) and 90% of all natural disas- storm water into a green periphery, ters are water-related (Wahlstrom maintaining a discontinuity and and Guha-Sapir). separation of buildings from the city and the public realm. In any The proposal for this studio is scenario in which sprawl is limited simple — let’s unlearn our pracand density is increased, the ground tices around building and water. plane becomes too valuable to be With aging water infrastructures, used solely for water abatement. what are the next scales of collecAlternatives to putting water in tion and distribution? Have paved, the ground point to the need for


Sangath, Ahmedabad, Doshi

Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Scarpa

Stepwells in Jaipur

Living with Water



This studio explored new architectural and urban paradigms where the city is re-integrated with water cycles. To do this, we needed to design ways to incorporate water storage, retention, infiltration, harvesting and filtering — designs that can hold water, get wet, expand and contract. This was the second year of a sponsored multi-disciplinary research and design studio focused on the issues of water and urbanism surrounding the Greater Bays of the Pearl River Delta and the San Francisco Bay Area. In the fall, there was a research seminar that provided some of the background materials for this spring studio as well as water research conducted by graduate students at the University of Hong Kong. The 2021 spring project site was on the northwest edge of Hong Kong Island in Kennedy Town. The Pedagogy- The objective of

the studio was to address the water challenges facing cities. With increasing precipitation volatility through out the world, both water shortages and floods are our new realities. Every city faces their particular challenges. The goals were to learn more about Hong Kong Island and to propose public and private partnerships in addressing the water challenges. The semester began with a series of design sketches to explore the many facets of water in a generative manner. This began with how to think with water? – how can designers represent water movement, speed, and direction in both analytic and projective ways? This was followed by design exercises in water: movement – flows, dissipation, and retention – at multiple environmental scales. Students were then asked to make propositions for the flows of a variety of types of water – potable, gray, black, storm, rain, and ground – as building and urban systems. To

these water propositions students then integrated other systems – access, dimensions, and structures including foundations to framing to skin, and materials.

Score for Metastasis, Yannis Xenakis

To weave these systems together in a way that acknowledged the complexity of living with water, the studio highlighted the use of sections so that “nothing can simply be placed on the surface; the composition of the urban ground requires that structures inevitably extend deep into a complex mix of dis

turbed soil horizons, construction rubble, pipes, subways, utilities” (Carlisle and Pevzner, 2012). Given the geology of Hong Kong with multiple public “ground levels,” rains driven by wind and storm water driven by gravity, the section proved to be a useful tool for integration. The continuity of the water movement through the section of the city served as the key to proposing a new “urban watershed.”


More about some of the studio exercises can be found in the Appendix.

System Collage | The Net

Living with Water






Kennedy Town Proposed Longitudinal Section | The Net

Living with Water



CHINA - PEARL RIVER DELTA – control the floodwaters. HONG KONG ISLAND – KENNEDY CITY The Greater Pearl River Delta (GPRD) is the most polycentric Flood is at the very root of China’s global city-region in the world history. The story of Yu’s Great comprising eleven municipalities. Flood in folk tradition speaks of Nine situated in mainland China a major ancient deluge that gave (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongrise to the first dynasty over 4,000 guan, Foshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, years ago (Allan, 1991). The story Zhongshan, Zhaoqing, and Huizhou, tells of how Yu directed efforts to jointly constituting the Pearl River dredge and channel rivers to drain Delta) and two consisting of Special the floodwaters. The story casts Administrative Regions (Hong Kong Yu’s triumph of human ingenuity and Macao). All of these municipal(Lewis, 2006). Yu brings order to the ities have undergone very different land so that fields could be planted historical trajectories which through setting the stage for the lowland ag- a complex combination of socioecoriculture that fueled the blossoming nomic and geopolitical factors have of Chinese civilization (Allan, 2001; fomented Guangzhou, Macao, Hong Lewis, 2006). With success, Yu deKong, and Shenzhen as the emergvised a system of flood control that ing as key cities within the region. instead of directly damming the Mutual interconnectedness among rivers’ flow, consisted of irrigation the various cities within the GPRD canals which conducted floodwater through various urban infrastrucinto fields and dredging the rivertures and to production and R&D bed (Dai et al., 2002). In the tale, it has grown to such an extent that took Yu and his followers decades to scholars concur in its capacity as

global city-region with global city Hong Kong acting as a hinge to the global market. (Carlow, Jason, et al., 2017) (Schiler, Daniel, et al., 2015) (Tang, Dorothy, 2013) (A.J. Scott, 2001). POLITICAL SITUATION Until 1997, Hong Kong was ruled by Britain as a colony but then returned to China. Under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, it has some autonomy, and its people more rights than in mainland China. Being one of the two Special Administrative Regions of China and even having a degree of autonomy from mainland China, there is a political movement that is pushing for a higher independency and for a “genuine democracy”. The current independence movement emerged after the 2014–15 Hong Kong electoral reform which deeply divided

the territory, as it allowed Hong Kongers to have universal suffrage conditional upon Beijing having the authority to screen prospective candidates for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong (CE), the highest-ranking official of the territory. It sparked the 79-day massive occupation protests dubbed as the “Umbrella Revolution”. Today, Hong Kong continues to be in the midst of social-political conflicts.

into a contract in which the province agreed to sell no less than 68.2 million cubic meters of water each year to the city. The Dong Shen Project (which was initiated in 1960) formally started to supply water from Dong Jiang River in Guangdong province to Hong Kong in 1965. By 1985, supply from the Dong Jiang surpassed local yields and soon became the dominant water source in the city.

water distribution system; and large-scale desalination. The Hong Kong Government reports that 7080 percent of its water supply now comes from Dong Jiang.

While the People’s Republic of China has never exercised the “water weapon” in its relationship with Hong Kong, as in all cities, we should and can no longer assume supply water is cheap and available to be moved from region to region. Yet, it must be observed that Hong Passive and decentralized water Kong independency may not be Meanwhile, the long history of supplies now need to be explored feasible in the short term, despite innovations in water, through policy to augment the existing clusters of political desires, for a very simple and engineering, ended abruptly smaller reservoirs design to serve reason: as an island, Hong Kong when abundant water supplies specific districts. The City’s High historically and currently relies on were secured from the Dong Shen Island Reservoir, built in 1979 in a China for its water supply. Project. These projects included narrow strait in Sai Kung, has a caconstruction of freshwater respacity of 280 million cubic meters; WATER (INTER) DEPENDENCY ervoirs in the sea, which gained Shenzhen Reservoir, which supplies worldwide recognition as a feat of water to Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Historical records show Guangdong engineering; the introduction of a has a much smaller capacity of started exporting water to Hong seawater toilet flushing system 45.77 million cubic meters. Plover Kong in 1964 after China and the which made Hong Kong the only Cove Reservoir, also built off Hong British colonial government entered city in the world to have a dual Kong’s coast, has a capacity of 230


Studio Context

million cubic meters. Can the City hold even more?


line between the developed city and the mountains. All the water gathered from the north face of the Like so many cities throughout the mountains are gathered into the world, the amounts of impervious intakes, discharged into the tunnel surfaces and increased precipitawhich ultimately discharges out to tion volatility have increased urban the west of Hong Kong Island into flooding. Hong Kong averages more the South China Sea at Cyberport. than 2,300 mm of rainfall each Between the intakes and the north year, one of the highest rates in the shore of the island, stormwater Pacific Rim, with about 80% of the continues to be discharged by water falling in just a few months flowing along buildings and street during seasonal typhoons. And surfaces into storm sewer systems storms are expected to become that discharge directly into Victoria more common in coming years. Its Harbor to the north of Hong Kong dense population and mountainous Island. Even with the construction terrain exacerbate the challenges of of the tunnel, recent typhoons still flooding. (C40 Cities, 2015) produced flooding, particularly in Kennedy Town, the site of the stuThe City has a vast and complex dio investigation. drainage system anchored by the Hong Kong West drainage tunnel In Hong Kong, about 80% of resibuilt in 2007. The tunnel is 10.5 dents flush their toilets with seakilometers long and 7.5 meters in water in a separated water system diameter at its widest, running the set up in the 1950s. The blackwater length of the hills behind the city. that results is mixed with other There are 34 intakes that sit at the waste waters that are collected

through underground pipes. The main trunk line is along the north edge of the island. The black water is then piped across Victoria Harbor to sewage treatment facilities. Among the three water systems — supply, storm and black water — the black water systems was studied by not addressed by the studio.

less vigorous than in other parts of urban Hong Kong. But since the railway (MTR) was extended to the area in 2014, it is rapidly gentrifying. As such, it proved to be an excellent pedagogical site to explored the many water complexities in a

KENNEDY TOWN Kennedy Town is part of Sai Wan, at the western side of Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. Administratively, Kennedy Town is part of Central and Western Districts. The studio focused on Kennedy Town, in part because its section compresses the typical section that can be found along the northern edge of Hong Kong Island, in part because this area is less densely developed that the central part of the same coast. Due to its distance from major commercial cores and longtime inaccessibility by train, development was

Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir, Hong Kong

compressed urban section.


Living with Water

Current and Proposed Water Containment


System Analysis | Sponge Podium

Current and Proposed Water Conveyance


Living with Water







Proposed Sites for the Studio Research and Design



Living with Water


WATER FLOWS AS AN URBAN FRAMEWORK While water and its systems of flow were the focal point of the studio, as in all urban and building design, these systems must be integrated. Thus the studio also investigated three other systems: 26

of programs in both a descriptive and generative way. Rather than having to work with the specific dimensions of an activity, uses can be categorized by size. They can be seen in existing fabrics and used in generative ways. They allow more 1. ACCESS Systems are ways in flexibility in initial layout and allow which we move around Kennedy for the potential for change. What Town. They could include transit, are key dimensions in the existing vehicular, pedestrian, servicing, ac- public and private realms? What is cess, fire protection and so on. They repetitive? What is unique? What include movement from street into programs are best supported along buildings, from entries to rooms Cadogan Street and what new – access contains thresholds and dimensional systems need to be pauses. How can a designer map deployed to better imbed water these existing systems to describe into the urban fabric? them three dimensionally? As one begins to speculate about integra3. STRUCTURAL Systems along tion of water with access, what with the material and tectonics of access ways would need to change the site are key building elements or need to be maintained to supfor the three-dimensional realm of port water systems along Cadogan any urban fabric. They include the Street? foundational, primary, secondary, tertiary structural systems and the 2. DIMENSIONAL Systems are materials of those systems. (For a way of working with a diversity convenience of definition, let’s

assume: foundational is the ground bearing system; primary brings loads to the foundation, secondary transfers loads to primary components; tertiary are non-loadbearing.) Like the dimensional systems, to describe the existing system, a designer may find some repetition in building types in the study area that should can be described systemically, or they may be tied to a single building or site. What kind of structural systems need to be imbedded to direct, slow, contain, and retain?

Water Movement Axon | Sponge Podium

Circulation Axon | Sponge Podium


System Exploded Axon | The Net

Living with Water



Exploded Axon | Urban Ravine

Program | The Net



Sam Gebb | Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture 2021 Terrence Ngu | Master of Landscape Architecture 2021 Xinwei Chen | Master of Architecture 2021


Urban Ravine

ABSTRACT This group proposal is titled “Urban Ravine” and explores managing urban runoff and hillside storm water in two separate systems as a way to recapture rainfall for reuse instead of routing it to the bay as is currently happening. Under existing conditions, hillside runoff is intercepted by the West Drainage Tunnel, while urban runoff is intercepted by traditional gray infrastructure of catch basins and storm drainpipes; both these systems convey flows directly to the bay. This volume of water represents a huge potential to be harnessed and reused as water supply, especially since Hong Kong is highly dependent on the Dongjiang that is already under heavy strain to deliver to millions in the Pearl River Delta mega-region. Under existing conditions in Kennedy Town, street access is in an eastwest axis for ease of movement to Central, while north-south streets are more service and delivery. In


the proposed urban framework, street access will be transformed to emphasize north-south streets as the main community streets that form an axis from hillside to seaside and reorient residents to the natural features. The east-west streets continue to service and connect Hong Kong Island. With this paradigm shift, we

propose our framework of two systems: the canal system and the aqueduct system. The canal system is designed to treat urban runoff as it is more polluted and requires heavier treatment prior to reuse. It is divided into two components: collectors that run east-west to convey runoff, and connectors that run north-south that act as the main retention and gather point to

Urban Ravine

treat and infiltrate runoff for reuse. With the connectors aligned to the north-south pedestrian axis, they will also become new public space gatherings for Kennedy Town. 32

The second system is the aqueduct system designed to manage hillside storm water that is less polluted. By separating the two systems based on pollutants, it reduces contamination and also provides a separate aerial water experience in the city. The components include the terraced reservoirs in the hills that collect water, which feed into the city via aqueducts, and deposit water into podiums for building use.

Current and Proposed Water Containment

Current Dimension/Access in Kennedy Town

Proposed Dimension/Access in Kennedy Town

Current and Proposed Water Conveyance


Urban Ravine

Multi-layer Systems in Urban Ravine



System Components

Site Plan

Urban Ravine



Longitudinal Section

Urban Ravine



Longitudinal Section

Urban Ravine



Water has always been shaping the city as well as its architecture – overhangs for pedestrians, courtyards with water, roof gardens, pitched roofs in various angles, canals… With the development of cityscape, water plays a more and more significant role in built environment, to store it, to convey it, to prevent it from damaging urban area. Water reshapes the high-rise in this project in Kennedy Town, where residents are able to experience the mountain, the dense urban area, and the ocean view in just a few blocks. With this dynamic change in terms of topography and scenarios, embracing water more tightly will be an opportunity to reconnect and reactive a community and to have people live with water, even nature. In this project, water becomes the dominant system to shape the building. With the skin collecting rainwater, the artificial waterfalls

filtering gray water, and the terraces containing water, the whole building functions as a decentralized machine to provide and reuse water to the users living in this community. Moreover, all these components create more activated public spaces for people to experience.

Model of Abstraction

Model of Transformation

Housing with different type of units, workspaces, commercial spaces are all included and mixed in this vertical community. Water flows in between, guiding people to walk out from their private spaces and gather on the terraces, semi-public corridors or balconies. Eventually water goes to the aqueduct as well as the ground level canals, forming a larger-scale water system in Kennedy Town.


Urban Ravine

Water Systems




Sectional Perspective

Urban Ravine

Building Components





Urban Ravine

FLOOD ROOMS Terrence Ngu


This portion of the water systems focuses on designing the connector swale along Cadogan Street. As this site is the downstream-most end of our urban framework, this is essentially the final destination for gathering water. As such, Flood Rooms is envisioned to be a destination gathering space for people as well, and ultimately as public space that acts as infrastructure to treat runoff for reuse. The proposition is to design a plaza with lterracing and a relationship of vertical and horizontal surfaces that changes over time and adapts to various rainfall volumes. The plaza terracing allows people to engage the site at different water heights and also serves as a visualization for the amount of rain generated in Hong Kong that can be reused by the neighborhood.

the world are sites of social spaces, and this became the starting point of the idea. The plaza form consists of terrace rooms that allow for social gather spaces akin to riverfronts while allowing activities to occur at various water levels. The terrace rooms are based off a three-meter grid, the dimensions of a small room, to create intimate and relatable spaces for people.

These forms create the basis for allowing the plaza to change over time with respect to water and vegetation. The plaza has varying depths at half-meter intervals to a maximum depth of 2 meters to well-accommodate the average rain events over the course of the year, with the levels becoming visual markers for the water’s change over time. Similarly, the plaza with gabion walls provides a medium for Terraces consist of vertical and hor- vegetation to propagate so that the izontal surfaces and each of these plaza’s characteristic also changes have specific functions within Flood over the course of decades. As Rooms. The vertical surfaces are plants grow, they strengthen the made of gabion walls to dissipate walls too and show that the plaza energy and provide erosion control is not static but rather an evolving while also allowing plants to grow system able to adapt to changes over time to strengthen the walls. over time. The horizontal surfaces are bioretention planters to allow for infiltration and treatment of runoff prior The idea of Flood Rooms came from to reuse, with planting schemes inserting a retention basin along based on riparian zones and inunthe longitudinal street to create a dation frequencies. river-like form. Many rivers around

Site Context


Form Shaping Diagram

Urban Ravine

Horizontal Surface


Vertical Surface

Drainage Area Average Rain Event Volume

Site Plan

Form Shaping Diagram


Urban Ravine

Plaza Interior, Initial Vegetation


Plaza Interior, Vegetation After a Few Decades Section




Safia Dziri | Master of Architecture 2021 Cari Hartigan | Master of Architecture 2021 Virginia Wong | Master of Landscape Architecture 2021 Anqi Zhao | Master of Landscape Architecture 2021


The Net

ABSTRACT This group project envisions a new urban framework that integrates the circulation of people and water toward providing a healthier and more resilient Kennedy Town. Situated between the hills of Mt. Davis and Lung Fu Shan Country Park to the north and Belcher Bay of Victoria Harbor to the south, Kennedy Town faces the challenges of population density and periodic flooding which impact much of Hong Kong. During typhoons, rainwater and storm surge make roadways impassable and threaten the safety of citizens. At the same time, Hong Kong cannot provide enough freshwater for its population and is dependent on imports from mainland China. When the weather is nice, the streets are crowded, and open space is limited within urbanized areas. The system proposed in this project aims to weave the threads of people, water, infrastructure, and


Program Inspiration Collage

public space together into a Net of inhabitable infrastructure which connects the city with its natural boundaries of hills and sea.

circulate, or relax. Despite the they provide connectivity between the vehicular streets and have the potential to become vibrant centers of human activity. Newer construcThe Net grows out of existing urban tion which often takes the form conditions in Kennedy Town. Inter- of a tower atop a podium limits stitial spaces such as parks, back public space at the ground level but alleys, and recessed areas under supports parks and gardens a few overhangs provide ground-level stories above the ground. Exterior spaces for people to take breaks, piping and air conditioning systems















occupy the facades of most buildings with a vocabulary of visible air and water infrastructure.


The new vision of Kennedy Town proposed by this project expands the water infrastructure beyond the facades of buildings to connect new and existing interstitial spaces for water and people. The existing street grid is offset horizontally and multiplied vertically into a multi-dimensional system of connection. Horizontal connections parallel to the shoreline work to store and slow down rainwater coming down from the hill or seawater rising up. These connections provide places for people to gather and plants to grow. Horizontal connections running from the hill to the sea convey people and water at a faster pace. These pieces serve as an alternative path of travel during flood conditions and connect elevated public spaces on building podiums. Vertical elements including new

buildings designed into the scheme filter and treat stormwater to supplement the fresh water supply. The Net adapts to different parts of the system connecting to the people and the surrounding ecosystems. At the border between the city and the hills, a new type of reservoir collects storm runoff and anchors the network. In the city existing interstitial spaces are retrofitted and new buildings are designed around the collection of water. At the waterfront, a softer park edge filters the interaction between the city and the sea.
















Conceptual Diagram

Existing Conditions | Building Heights, Interstitial Space, Pipes, Water

System Exploded Axon

The Net



Longitudinal Section

System Collage

The Net

CONFLUENCE Safia Dziri Residential/ Shared Unit

Podium Park/ Community Garden

Food Market/ Outdoor Plazas

In this new proposal, buildings are junctions: places where water and people converge. They are part of a new co-dependent system, a wider NET. 58

Private-Public Circulation

There, water from the hill, transported in waterways, stops, stormwater lingers, and fogs are turned into pools. There, the community gather for a refreshing break during the hot summer months around the building’s gardens and pools. Excessive water is used to grow food. Water is captured, filtered, stored during the year for these times when it could come amiss. The new buildings become central to the community, supplying, cleaning and delaying water; essentially participating in the restoration of the global water cycle and of public spaces at the local level.

Program and Access

59 Local storages

Planted terraces

Water transport mainway Fog mesh Slopes with trenches Slop Slo

“harp” type 9 L/m²

Conventional water pipes Fountain

Internal waterway delaying water courses

Site Natural Conditions

The Public

Water System

Underground storage

The Net




Section Perspective

The Net



The residential reservoir provides a new infrastructure for living at the interface of the city and the hill. It directly addresses challenges of water supply, stormwater runoff, and housing scarcity in Kennedy Town by providing community-focused dwelling interspersed with public recreational spaces generated by new water infrastructure. Physically and visually, it connects the natural landscape of the hills with the urban grid and the sea. The residential reservoir folds a traditionally horizontal freshwater treatment system to fit in a constrained footprint. Stormwater which was previously diverted directly to the sea through the Hong Kong West drainage tunnel is collected in terraces along the hillside and flows out into roof level reservoirs. These reservoirs anticipate extreme fluctuations in water levels between the wet and dry seasons. When storms are less

frequent, parts of the roof support recreational and leisure activities. During heavy storms, most of the recreational space at the roof level becomes filled with water. An elevated path connects the entrance and exit points on the roof providing an escape route in case of sudden inundation. After collecting in the roof reservoirs, the flow of water through steps of the treatment process mimics the terracing of the landscape and dictates the shape of the building. At the building foundation, treated water is stored to be distributed through the urban framework to supplement the fresh water supply.

volumes are clad with a permeable screen while the solid behind is eroded to allow penetration of air and light. At the ground level, only the structural walls of the building touch the ground, allowing for a continuous commercial and recreational space which flows up the contours of the hill. Protected from the sun but open to ventilation, this series of terraced levels provides places for people to shop, eat, and relax. A pedestrian connection is forged between Ka Wai Man Road on one side of the reservoir with Forbes street on the other side and the existing bus stop is incorporated into the new space.

The structure of the residential reservoir is formed by a series of massive parallel walls which contain the service cores for the building. Connected by steel trusses, these walls sandwich lighter volumes containing housing and water treatment systems. The sandwiched

Residential areas of the reservoir are arranged around communal courtyards. These courtyards allow connection between neighbors at each level and provide a shared semi-private space. Inside apartments, the service-heavy kitchen and bathroom spaces are stacked in


Relationship Among Sea, City, Hill

the massive structural walls while the rest of the space is left flexible for residents to subdivide as they choose. Overlapping light wells allow air circulation and daylight penetration while allowing residents a visual connection between levels. At certain moments, glimpses of the freshwater treatment system are

Freshwater Shortage | Storm Water Excess

revealed, reminding residents of the of building that can be applied to processes that go into cleaning the many sites at the interface of the water that they drink. city and the hill as older building stock degrades and increasing denThe residential reservoir envisions sity necessitates new construction. a new way of living connected to a more forward thinking conception of urban and ecological processes. The reservoir represents a new way

The Net

Interior Courtyard View



Rooftop Reservoir - Low Water Level


Rooftop Reservoir - High Water Level

The Net

Water Treatment Section - Low Water Level

Water Treatment Section - High Water Level



Apartments Plan - Low Water Level

Apartments Plan - High Water Level

The Net



Currently, Kennedy Town depends on a centralized drainage tunnel that captures stormwater runoff from mountains and the surface of the city. While it is very effective given the large capacity of the tunnel, as sea level rises, this solution becomes problematic when the system is clogged, overloaded with water, and potentially under-maintained maintenance. In addition, Kennedy Town lacks green public spaces. Therefore, how might we decentralize the current water system and treat water at a smaller scale from hill to bay while also providing habitable green spaces for people and plants? This proposed plan focuses on the waterfront area along Cadogan Street, in which the design continues extending the offset grid created by the interstitial spaces in the city and treats water three-di

the process. Water will be collected on top of buildings and at underground water collection points that will then get filtered on building green facades and feeds into our proposed elevated connectors from podiums to podiums.


These partly enclosed, multi-level walkways are designed with green facade panels that help to treat water and trapping moisture along the way to the ocean and provide habitable spaces for people and plants.

Hong Kong West Drainage Tunnel

-mensionally. (For more information about the offset grid, please refer back to our group water framework). A network of elevated walkways is proposed to connect green patches within the city, to move people from hill to bay (or bay to the hill), and to treat water in

The goal of this design is to help decentralized current water systems in which water can be treated at a smaller scale, creating multi-level structures that connect green spaces and improving the human-nature relationships through this new way of experience landscape.

Proposed Plan

The Net



FILTRATION PARK Stormwater Seawater


Concept Diagram


Concept Diagram | Form

Diagram | Runoff

Diagram | Water Collector

Diagram | Filtration + Connection

Diagram | Combined System


The Net


Diagram | Combined System



Diagram | Combined System

The Net



The existing interstitial spaces in Kennedy Town are currently prone to flooding, over-heating, and thus become neglected gaps within the neighborhood blocks. They also present the potential to mitigate Hong Kong’s water problems on a city scale. As our group project, the NET, proposes a new grid of water system that links these spaces, this individual project seeks to provide a prototype for retrofitting each interstitial space. Inspired from the local method of constructing the city, the project transforms the temporary bamboo scaffolding into a permanent structure that both retains the identity of Hong Kong and performs as KNOTs that tie together water, green space and people.

In the scale of Kennedy Town, the network of these knots reduces waste of water and increases the city’s resilience to excessive runoff during storms and typhoons. In terms of providing programs, the filtered water will be utilized on site to promote crop growing. As Hong Kong accelerates the abandonment of farmland together with intensification in urban agriculture, providing an autonomous crop growing space not only present a social and educational opportunity for each neighborhood, but could also relief pressure for the cities’ food supply.

The proposed structure will first become a pedestrianized layer that supplies fresh air, community space and food to the existing city. Over time, as sea level and ground Environmentally, the transformation water rise, the network of these aims to filter rainwater and recycle structures will become the starting grey water on site while increasing point for constructing new buildings local water storage and infiltration. within its surrounding block. The

75 Interstitial Landscape within the Net

Existing Condition & Solution

Concept Collage - Rain

former fabric will be gradually superseded by a new city that is comfortable, floodable and sustainable.


North-South Section

The Net


Water Scenarios

Diagram | Runoff

Diagram | Water Collector

Diagram | Filtration + Connection

Diagram | Combined System


The Net



EW Section 1

EW Section 2

EW Section 3 View From Window of Existing Building



Emiel Cockx | Master of Architecture 2021 Giulia Accurso | Master of Landscape Architecture 2021 Yushi Duan | Master of Architecture 2021


Sponge Podium

ABSTRACT Squished between mountains and the sea, Kennedy Town ironically deals both with floods and the need for water. The Sponge Podium masterplan has one simple goal: creating a closed loop of water use and re-use that stitches Kennedy Town together. As a materialization of this vision, the masterplan consequently aims to define a framework for the architecture and landscape of the city by reframing the existing typology of the podium. The first step is analyzing where storm water that washes of the mountain is gathered, and to articulate the way it is conveyed towards the sea. A new element is then introduced that sits perpendicular to the way storm water flows in: the Blue Spine gathers the water, slows it down, and thereby defines the center of the town. The current sewage system, that runs undersea to mainland Hong Kong, is interrupted with a new sewage treatment plant that treats the wastewater to an


Water Issues to Address

exposable level and puts it back into the system at the start of the Blue Spine. Finally, gray water from the existing buildings becomes part of the water system after basic treatment. Now, all the water that is being used in Kennedy Town strategically runs through one point, where the Blue Spine flows into the sea. To complete the circle, a water treatment facility at that point

treats the incoming water to a potable level, any excess water is slowly conveyed to the sea. The current hard sea edge is softened up and connected with the framework that is introduced around the Blue Spine and the fingers that bring the storm water into Kennedy Town. Key areas, which have been identified as

Sponge Podium



Longitudinal Section

underdeveloped, are connected in one system that stitches the city together through the development of a continuous network of connected podium levels. It thereby reframes the existing typology of the podium that is so typical to Hong Kong, recognizing its strength as relating the scale of the skyscraper to a human one. Running from the mountain to the sea, an architecture is proposed that is has both the porosity of a

City - Nature

sponge, as well as the capacity of a sponge to hold air and water.

the focus shifts towards water filtration and storage, accommodating the existing business and commerThree identifiable areas emerge out cial program, Finally, towards the of the Sponge Podium masterplan, seashore, the focus shifts yet again, each with a slightly different focus now towards dealing with excess on program and the way water is water, as the program becomes used. Towards the mountains, the almost exclusively commercial. The program is primarily residential, and following three projects develop a the focus lies on catching and delay- vision for the architecture and landing stormwater. In the center of the scape of these three areas. town, around the Blue Spine,

Kennedy Town Urban Framework

Sponge Podium



Diagram Site Plan

Sponge Podium


Longitudinal Section

Longitudinal Section


Sponge Podium

SKY SPONGE Giulia Accurso


The purpose of this project is to increase and reimagine the three-dimensionality of pedestrian circulation that exists in Hong Kong by creating a podium level green corridor that carries, filters, and delays stormwater from the mountains through the city and down to the waterfront. In an otherwise “grey” city, the sky sponge will create a system of programed landscapes that connects the community to the city’s water system. Biofiltration planters and storage tanks along the promenade will store water for future use after heavy rainfall events while the sponge-like levee along the waterfront will provide a place for flooding and retention as well as act as a barrier towards sea level rise and wave attenuation that can resist 50 and 100-year storm events. All proposed vegetation will work to reclaim the landscape’s natural ecology and will bring climatic relief to an overheated city.


Existing Conditions and Parameters

Master Plan with Podium Sections

Sponge Podium


Promenade | Water Movement & Filtration | Sponge & Storage


Water Movement | Circulation | Vegetation



Sponge Podium



The cycle that water goes through each day to be treated and used requires an enormous amount of energy, one that goes largely unnoticed. As a matter of fact, 85% of the energy of this cycle is being used by the pumps needed to move water between where it is treated and where it is used. It is therefore essential that we shift the way we think about water treatment to a significantly smaller scale. This project explores what happens when we treat water on the smallest scale — not on the scale of the neighborhood, the scale of the building, or even the scale of a floor — but the scale of the room. Consequently, what is the architecture that follows out of this thesis? The Sponge Living builds forth on the Sponge Podium masterplan, situating itself in the south-eastern corner of Kennedy Town, a neighborhood that is intersected by

whole podium level to flood during the rainy season. Apertures allow water and light to filter down to the solid podium below. The porous building above the garden becomes the focus of this thesis.

Left: Lunch, 1962, Fan Ho | Right: Her Study, 1961, Fan Ho

small stairs and alleyways that are only accessible to pedestrians. The dimensions of these alleyways and the placement of doors and fences strictly define a gradient in character from public to private space. These semi-public and semi-private spaces are where social interaction happens and are inseparable from the daily life in Hong Kong.

In the proposal, a public garden separates the solid podium that sits grounded into the hill from a porous residential building on top, thereby flipping the parti of the masterplan’s porous podium with a solid building on top. Water flows in from the hills and is slowed down. Recessed places give the public garden the capacity to store water, while elevated walkways allow the

The energy-intensive part of water treatment today comes from getting rid of toxic chemicals in stormwater, accumulated through erosion and surface run-off. The proposed system uses a conventional technology, called Reverse Osmosis, to get rid of these chemicals. The resulting purified water is then pumped to the top of the building, where it will be used by the program on the top floor. Instead of draining the grey water to a treatment plant mile away, it is treated and stored on that same floor, becoming the source of potable water for the floor below. This small-scale purifi- Conceptual Model cation of grey water is possible with a combination of activated carbon reduction in energy use for water and UV light, resulting in a 90-95% treatment, compared to conven-

tional treatment. The architecture of such a system must be one in which the room becomes an autonomous element as the materialization of the wet and dry program. These rooms are suspended in a three-dimensional grid that derives its dimensions and structural hierarchy from the famous bamboo scaffolding that is found throughout Hong Kong. Vertical relationships between rooms follow a clear design logic that ensures a continuous flow of water use and storage throughout the section. In the balcony, water is filtered and stored, and can either be exposed as a pond, or covered to be used as a deck or green roof. The three-dimensional negative space that exists between the suspended rooms becomes one that is semi-private, gathering the building as a community of rooms. It is the architecture of a sponge, with the capacity to hold air, water and people.


Sponge Podium

Water Filtration System

Design Logic in Section



Plan Design Logic

Wet and Dry Program

Balcony Construction Detail

Sponge Podium


Podium Plan

Upper Floor Plan



Sponge Podium



Kennedy Town has many common problems of Hong Kong: water resources depend on mainland supply, and the water collection system on Hong Kong Island is not efficient, resulting in a large amount of rainwater not being used. The rain seeps into the mountains causing landslides, and accumulates on the ground causing flooding of the roads. In order to solve these problems, our group proposal set up a “sponge podium” system in the entire Kennedy Town to absorb and recycle rainwater to the greatest extent. Excess water is drained to the water treatment center through the “Blue Spine” that runs through the city, and then pumped back to the city to provide water for buildings to achieve the circulation of the water system.

ways to store water, to reuse water, and to filter water in a commercial and business area.

Based on the existing problems of Hong Kong’s high-density cities, this project contains the following proposals: the three-dimensional pedestrian flow line; the circulation of rainwater collection system; and the integration of three-dimensional planting and rainwater filtration. These proposals are interwoven as part of a “spiral garden” and “sponge podium”. Suspended soil and structural layers surround a tower, collecting and filtering rainwater. The “podium level” is interwoven with the bottom of the tower. The ground floor can be vacated to absorb water when flooding occurs. Even during a flood, pedestrians can freely walk through This project develops part of the the “podium level,” avoiding the Blue Spine. Its location in the center crossing of roads. of Kennedy Town and is close to other blocks. The goal is to develop The project proposes a new type

of urban communication space in which water can be re-cycled at a small-scale and provide a multi-layered pedestrian experience that introduces water into urban life, recalling the relationship between people and nature.


Existing Issues & Strategies

Conceptual Model

Topography & Form

Sponge Podium

Rainfall and Form

Site Analysis 100


Ground Floor Plan

System Axon

Sponge Podium


Detail Section



Longitudinal Section

Longitudinal Section




Just like air and light, water flows are often absent from our representation and then more difficult to keep in our design thinking. So any design studio on water has to begin with finding, transforming and developing ways to think with water. Appendix A and Appendix B are just the beginnings of longer term research into the area of thinking with water. WATER FLOWS Water flows -- just 1:100 (1/8” per foot) in a slope is enough for a “flat” roof to drain. Water seeps. Water pools. We know that we need to design for the inevitable ebb and flow of water, yet water is absent in our drawings. Too often, we must imagine water into the representation of a space. Water flows: there is direction, speed, intensity and time. How can designers represent dangers and potentials for design be used for integrated design? water flows in our work, increasing with water? What are the convenour awareness of the constraints, tions in other disciplines? What can


Moebius House | UN Studio

Score for Metastasis | Yannis Xenakis

Choreography of Water Flow | Lawrence Halprin

Kartal-Pendik Masterplan | Patrick Schumacher

Moebius House | UN Studio

Godel, Escher, Bach | Douglas Hofstadter

Abstraction of Flows




Meander Map of Mississippi River | Harold Fisk

Tokyo Bay Marin Fields | Andrea Hansen

Water Velocity Distribution

Water Generative Design | ThinkTank

Map of Venice | Flowing City Map

Studies of Turbulent Water | Leonardo da Vinci

Ocean Currents 1943 | US Army Service Forces

Salton Sea Migrating Pods | Courtesy Lateral Office

Relief Shading Works and Studies | Eduard Imhof

Landscape from Saint-Remy | Vincent van Gogh

Therme Vals | Peter Zumthor

Hidden Landscape | The Washington State Geological Survey

Describing Flows

Aesthetics of Flows




tems operate in a building as well as connect to the ground. Then, One of the challenges and opportu- the precedents were transformed, nities of designing for water is the incrementally, to make a series of potential to break the disciplinary propositions about water systems. and administrative boundaries beHow can gravity be used to accentween a building, a lot, and a street. tuate or decelerate flow, How can Water flows without regard to these a building or landscape be formed artifices. Water follows gravity. to encourage slowing of water, and Using case studies, the studio first where? Rainwater, storm water, described how different water sys- potable water, black water, evapora-


tion/ventilation/cooling – how can the building section be redesigned to increase water re-use, thermal storage, water quality, agriculture, flood prevention, while still maintaining concern for protecting interior spaces that must be kept dry? How can be the mass of water be central to a design’s structure?


EXPO2000 Transformation




The Commons | Department of Architecture

The Commons Transformation


Program Transformation



La Coruña Center for the Arts | Acebo x Alonso Studio

La Coruña Center for the Arts Transformation


Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center Transformation



Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center | Kengo Kuma & Associates

Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center Transformation




Parkroyal WOHA

Parkroyal Transformation


Screenshot of ARCH 202 Studio on Zoom