Maybe you’ve heard the phrase feng shui being thrown around, but how much do you really know about it? The ancient Chinese practice involves the positioning and designing of buildings and interiors to be in harmony with nature so as to bring good fortune. With soaring commercial skyscrapers in this city surrounded by water and mountains, it’s no surprise that feng shui is taken seriously in Hong Kong. Ever wondered how feng shui has influenced the city’s major building designs? Read on to find out. By Karl Lam
RECOMMENDED: Want to learn more about feng shui? Read all about it in our piece about why it’s such a big deal in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong building feng shui
Both IFC One and IFC Two are situated on Victoria Harbourfront, which already gives them an advantage as the open water represents wealth, allowing water to flow towards the buildings. The iconic roof of Two IFC is designed to look like a crown, a symbol of its elite and prestigious status; some speculate that they look like fingers, reaching out to the heavens. Like most major Hong Kong skyscrapers, ‘taboo floors’ such as 14 and 24 are omitted, due to the fact that number four sounds like the word ‘death’ in Cantonese.
When Hopewell Centre was first constructed in 1980, the circular building was thought to look like a cigarette or a candle, representing the threat of fire to its tenants. Since then, developers have built a small round pool on the rooftop with the hopes of extinguishing any potential firey hazards. Unfortunately, for us, that pool only serves feng shui purposes, meaning you can’t dive in for a swim.
Image: barnyz / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The iconic IM Pei-designed Bank of China Tower has dominated the Island skyline for decades now and is revered by tourists and locals alike, but it wasn’t always perceived in such a good light. The sharp edges of the building made it seem like a knife and the irregularly shaped corners supposedly radiate negative energy according to feng shui principles. Ever since, owners have developed an urban garden on the ground floor, complete with trees and a waterfall to incorporate nature’s harmony. Talk about positive vibes!
Because of the negative energy from nearby Bank of China, architect Norman + Partners had to be cautious when making feng shui adaptations to the HSBC building nearby. This included creating a hollow atrium allowing wind and positive qi (energy) inside. Two cannon structures on the roof of the building deflect the Bank of China’s bad feng shui, while two bronze lion statues on the ground floor ensure prosperity and harmony.
Some may consider the Cheung Kong Center’s square design bland or even boring, but a lot more thought went into its appearance than one might think. Instead of upstaging other buildings, architects Cesar Pelli and Leo A Daly created a design that would be both balanced and harmonised to absorb the negative energy coming from the Bank of China Tower’s sharp edges.
Completed in 1972, the 52-storey Jardine House still stands out in our concrete jungle thanks to its dizzying facade of circular windows. The office building was designed by architect Palmer & Turner, who designed these windows as a homage to the portholes of the maritime trading business established by Jardine Matheson. Their round shape is synonymous with coins and the sun, symbolising both wealth and prosperity.
If you’ve ever seen or lived in residential complexes on the hilly outskirts of town, you’ve probably seen the square holes penetrating the façades of buildings. Believe it or not, these are called Dragon Gates, which are pretty unique to Hong Kong. Feng shui principles dictate that dragons fly from mountains to water, so it’s no wonder we see them so often in places like Stanley and Repulse Bay.
Image: ThisParticularGreg / CC BY-SA 2.0
Want more Hong Kong architecture?
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