HK3: Hong Kong Polytechnical University

Jockey Club Innovation Tower: the design building from Zaha Hadid. Unfortunately it  was so humid when I came outside that the lens immediately fogged!

Jockey Club Innovation Tower: the design building from Zaha Hadid. Unfortunately it was so humid when I came outside that the lens immediately fogged!


At the time of my visit The Hong Kong Polytechnical University held its annual design exhibition of work of graduating students. The work of the design department looked great. Something to aspire to for our own Industrial Design department at XJTLU.

I was also interested in the Communication Design Ba students. In their projects they had taken on some interesting themes, such as the neon light heritage of Hong Kong, Chinese calligraphy and health data. The design of the accompanying poster presentations though, looked like they could need a more firm typographical hand. They are only means of presentation for a project but still, you are a designer or not ; ). But I might be all to critical as Dutch guy with the large interest in typography in my country.

A dissappointment, if not maddening was the new design building, designed by the late Zaha Hadid. Officially called the ‘Jockey Club Innovation Tower’–after its major sponsor–its sculpted shape looks great on the outside, a beacon of progressiveness, a shiny example of image building for a university wanting to draw in students and researchers. But. I do pity the staff and the students who have to work inside of it. Its cramped and angled spaces made me feel slightly claustrophobic. White walls and ceilings can compensate for this only to a certain degree. Way finding was a nightmare for me. The general layout of a building should be clear.

This view is also inspired by my own involvement with the design process of our new combined Architecture and Industrial Design building at the South Campus of XJTLU. The overall architectural concept–roughly rounded and angled buildings, designed by the provincial planning office–came at the expense of a practical and efficient use of spaces for teaching, research, office space and workshops. Thankfully a joint redesign helped by the head of Architecture–on our own initiative–was able to compensate for that at least partially. Ideally teaching spaces should be designed so that they match the teaching and learning methods that you use. And that goes much further then just a division between lecture and seminars, especially in a discipline like design. Labs, teaching and office spaces should be spacy, flexible and should be designed in cooperation with staff to make them useable.

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