In the late 2010s, City University of Hong Kong decided to build a new teaching and administration building on campus. They settled on Academic 3, or “AC3”: a 20-storey compound built in the centre of the existing campus, providing classrooms, university offices, teaching and research laboratories, multi-function rooms, common areas, administrative offices, a 600-seat lecture theatre, a canteen, a roof garden and various other student amenities, spread over a total floor area of 37,300 sq. m.
Given the site’s location and height restriction parameters, RLP’s design was focused around creating four key sustainable and human-centric elements:
- A strong connection between the uphill remote dormitory cluster and the main academic campus downhill;
- An elevated green deck across the sloping site to recover existing greenery;
- Making the campus into a green icon embedding sustainable design against the backdrop of Lion Rock, the city’s landmark; and
- Finding ways to enhance permeability and the natural environment at street level.
On many world university campuses, the “green heartland” acts as a bonding place for the university community – a place for intellectual interchanges and events; a place where ideas are circulated. The elevated green deck creates this heartland for City U, serving as a connector for the entire campus and a place to gain panoramic views over the campus and its citywide context.
Beneath it, the Low Block holds a series of interactive spaces, atria and semi-outdoor social spaces, providing a lively circulation route as it ascends uphill. Along this “University Street”, students, faculty and staff can socialise, study, collaborate, and take breaks. It brings together the energy, enthusiasm and creative synergy of the university community through flexible, creative and adaptable spaces. Various sustainable design measures were also adopted in the Low Block, including elevating the entire block to allow natural ventilation to rise through the open atria within.
Rising an additional 12 storeys above the Low Block, the High Block is the tallest structure in the neighbourhood. It too has many passive sustainable design features, including glazing facing north, east and south to maximise natural daylight, while operable windows encourage natural ventilation. Natural interior lighting is carefully controlled, and the window-to-wall ratio was kept low to reduce heat gain while ensuring sufficient natural light.
More than just a functional facility, AC3 has become an iconic landmark for university students and staff and the entirety of Hong Kong.