Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Architecture and morality

On the other side of the harbour from my office on Hong Kong Island, the tower of the new ICC building is taking shape in West Kowloon. Known as a "superskyscraper", it will be 490m tall and Hong Kong's tallest building on its completion in 2010. It already looks too big for its surroundings: the only thing distinguishing it, like most skyscrapers, is its height.
At certain times of day it throws a shield of reflected sunlight across the harbour almost too bright to look towards - it's changed the landscape of the harbour forever. Did the architects realise that when the sun hit the glass at a certain angle it would shine out like a contemporary Pharos? There's something so arrogant and at the same time quite astonishing about it.


LottieP said...

The picture reminds me of God's Grandeur, a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem (1918, long before this towering folly was conceived):

It will flame out
Like shining from shook foil

DLK said...

It certainly draws attention to itself, but I'm not sure if it's doing it in a good way. It seems a bit crass, too self important, like it's bullying the other buildings.

DLK said...

Ever since you mentioned this, I keep noticing it looming over Kowloon. I can’t believe you can see it from the end of my street and I hadn’t noticed until now. I've put a photo of it from this angle on my blog. It just blends gently into the smog behind Yau Ma Tei.

LottieP said...

Thanks for the link, Diana. I think there's quite a lot more to go so "gently" may not be the word you're using by the time it's done... There's a real poverty of the imagination in its design.

Quite a few of the lower floors are apparently already occupied.