[Project on the Podium] Ma On Shan: A Segmented Container for a Micro-Scale City
Hong Kong, China
Located in the New Territories of Hong Kong, there exists a unique building typology known as the podium – a big-box, multi-level housing base that incorporates a complex program of amenities. The type is a creative response to the housing market, bringing every amenity from food markets to cinemas to shopping malls to the doorstep of high-rise tower dwellers. However, these developments produce a type of high-rise sprawl that abandons the ground plane, subsequently lowering the quality of life that exists at the street level.
The objective of the Hong Kong studio is to develop and employ a strategy that will break up the monolithic scale, and improve the porosity of the podium. The podium is to be linked to the infrastructure of the city in a more acceptable fashion, so that more of the population will be drawn in, and will make better use of these structures. The towers are to be, for the most part, left as they currently exist; modified only at their bases as they intersect the podium. By integrating ideas and concepts drawn from the city itself into the podium, the podium will find its proper place within the fabric of the area, and will generate a higher quality of life for both the residents of the towers and the general public.
Ma On Shan is broken up into segments based on existing points of importance along both facades of the podium. These segments wrap around the podium, and inserted at their joints are structures that slice and weave through the interior. These structures are derived partly from the chaotic, interstitial alley spaces found throughout Hong Kong, and partly from the charged idea of bamboo and its uses throughout the city. The structures create direct pathways from the KCR on the south side, through the podium and to the park on the north side; in effect creating a more porous and permeable condition within the podium.
The monotony of the existing facades is abandoned in favor of a more energetic condition, addressing the human scale which is not apparent in the podium’s present condition. The interior spaces are broken up, enlarged, and shifted around as a reaction to the insertion of the snaking structures, which serve host to a variety of temporary programs, both public and private. Through the introduction of street markets, performances, and other traditional activities to the podium, Ma On Shan becomes a container for a micro-scale city.