Known for his sleek and modern style in combination with high-tech designs in his structures, British architect Norman Foster contributes to building energy-efficient structures primarily using steel and glass accompanied by marvelous blending with the environment. Foster founded his firm Foster + Partners in 1967 which now has over 360 employees in the UK and serves more than 15 countries for the development of sustainable architecture.
He started his architectural career with one of his major projects Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich which was completed in 1978, and reserved his place in the list of best architects around the globe.
Amongst his best works stands the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Headquarters Building, located in Hong Kong, China. The building masterpiece was completed on November 18th, 1985 being one of the most expensive buildings in the world. Covering an area of 99,000 sq.m. stands the 180 meters tall HSBC Building with a capacity of 8,800 people.
Building Form & Circulation
Designed in the stepped profile, the building is a combination of 3 discrete towers of a distinct number of stories resulting in floors of assorted width and depth. The structure is a gallery-like open and free space where the elevators, staircases, and mechanical equipment are placed on the sides for better visual accessibility giving the structure the title of “First Tower without a Central Core” by Sir Norman Foster himself.
Although the structure is constructed on a congested site, the users could walk underneath the building or rise on escalators from the banking hall on the ground floor.
Materials and Construction
Due to the lack of technology resources and fabrication in Hong Kong at the time, the pre-designed and pre-fabricated building elements were shipped from the USA, Japan, and the UK & further assembled on-site and bamboo scaffolding was used on this restricted site.
The flooring was made of Lightweight movable panels under which the services such as power network, telecommunication, and Air-conditioning systems were installed easily and quickly. Around 30,000 tons of steel and 4,500 tons of Aluminium was used to build this magnificent marvel of steel. Different countries contributed to providing different materials such as Structural Steel (UK), Glass, Aluminium cladding, and flooring(USA), and Services modules(Japan).
Norman Foster used the idea of the absence of internal supporting structures and not using elevators as the primary carrier of building traffic but escalators as the interconnections between the floors.
Apart from the use of Factory-finished modules, The bridges between the masts define double-heightened reception areas to socially and visually optimize the scale of the building and to achieve harmony and balance.
Energy-efficiency and Conservation
Norman Foster’s primary style of designing is based on the conservation of energy and integrating with the environment and this concept can easily be seen in the HSBC building. To maintain the balance between environment & technology, simple but efficient energy conservation techniques were brought into action.
The foremost feature which contributed to the pleasing environment is the abundant use of sunlight. The mirror scoops on the sunny side which reflects light through the mirrored ceiling, enlightens the space and helps conserve energy. The reflection of light falls as we move up giving an extraordinary experience.
Another astonishing feature is the use of seawater instead of freshwater as a coolant for the Air-Conditioning system since it saves 90% of the energy and makes it cost-independent.
Moreover, the significant use of Sunshades provided on the external facades helps block direct sunlight and reduce heat gain. The massing of the structure is done in such a way that an adequate amount of sunlight enters the campus and promotes a good flow of energy.
Concept of Feng Shui
Feng Shui is a common traditional practice from ancient china that aims to enhance the well-being of a person inside a space by promoting a good flow of energy and further resulting in productivity of the users. The literal translation of the words ‘Feng’ and ‘Shui’ is as simple as ‘Wind’ and ‘Water’ respectively. To adapt this concept, Norman Foster has designed the campus in such a way that it has wide-open areas in front giving the view of the ‘Victoria Harbour’ since no other buildings are obstructing the view.
The HSBC Headquarter Building is a radiant masterpiece standing firm for the last 35 years. Architect Norman Foster is one of the remarkable architects in the world who tend to use energy-efficient construction methods and use evolving techniques in their designs.
The High-tech architecture style adopted by Foster + Partners and Norman Foster himself serves the world in a better way. In 2003, the tourism boards also developed the lighting scheme called “A Symphony of Lights” commonly termed as multimedia lighting show. The structure is now owned by the London-Based HSCB Holdings. The building is a Jewel and so is sir Norman Foster.