THEi is a new campus development for a tertiary education institution located near the Chai Wan harbour front in Hong Kong. Around the new campus lie public housing estates, public open spaces and another member institute campus. The design of the campus addresses numerous challenges: the sub-tropical urban climate, a development height limit, urban environmental impacts from surrounding roads and an elevated railway line, the campus close proximity to existing public housing and the poor pre-development connectivity of the area, especially to the waterfront.
Users of the campus now enjoy an enhanced and comfortable urban microclimate, a community-centric learning environment that facilitates the creation and exchange of knowledge, and a permeable and connected design that exists within and extends beyond the campus.
The twin-block design evolved to provide a holistic response to the climate, the microclimate, and the urban and site constraints. By opening to the harbour and the adjacent district open space on the east, the blocks welcome the prevailing summer breeze, daylight, views, and outdoor green environment; and extend it vertically to create green elements in various sky-gardens in terraces and pocket spaces. On the other side, the narrowing gap between the twin blocks on the west side and the twin blocks themselves screen off the campus plaza from adjacent traffic noise and noise from a neighbouring bus depot. The linear blocks orient north-south to optimise shading and daylight, and minimise its exposure to the western sun.
The design focuses on the school community’s integration with the neighbourhood. The public realm of the campus intertwines with indoor and outdoor “social magnets” and key circulation nodes of students and staff. Excellent vertical connectivity within the campus is achieved by three shuttle escalators located on strategic floors and through prominent and accessible circulation stairs. Visual transparency is vigorously maintained with glazed walls along general circulation routes, revealing the campus’ vibrant learning and teaching activities to visitors. Maintaining a high standard of indoor environmental quality – which includes decent amounts of daylight, good views, and proper air flow with few contaminants – is conducive to an effective and healthy learning environment.
Users and stakeholders complimented the innovative climate and site-responsive design in a sharing session held after the opening of the campus.
Visions and Key Success Factors
1. Distinct branding and positioning of THEi among other tertiary institutes: The branding and positioning of the new campus should be unique, delightful and open to foster innovations.
The objective for this campus was to foster ideas exchange, not just within the school community, but also with the neighbourhood. The design thoughtfully fulfils the requirements of the brief, creating a learning environment which fosters innovation through close integration with the community and other stakeholders distinguishing the branding and positioning of THEi among other tertiary institutes.
The site planning of the campus responds to the environment; circulation planning creates connectivity and transparency between learning spaces and key circulation; and social nodes showcases students’ hard work and facilitates exchanges and dialogue.
2. Quality campus environment for learning and student development: The campus environment should be stimulating and diverse for all-round education.
The design provides stimulating and diverse conditions for students to learn on their own by encouraging face-to-face communications and creating spaces where students can encounter each other. Indoor and outdoor “social magnets” and key circulation nodes of the neighbourhood and the campus are intertwined and intermingled. Exhibition galleries, active and passive open spaces and shared-use general studio spaces were designed at strategic floors where the shuttle escalators land.
3. Future-proofed design, flexibility for change and expansion: Ease of future expansion for more accommodations should be considered both in terms of site master planning and building design (structural & architectural) to optimize feasibility for additions and alterations.
The structural grid, foundation loadings and architectural layout in the design take into account possible alterations and expansions to meet future changes in the curriculum.
4. Environmental, social and economic sustainability showcase from a life-cycle perspective: The campus should act as a role model of green built environment for the coming generations.
Building energy efficiency and optimisation from a lifecycle perspective was of paramount importance to the design team. This has been achieved through a comprehensive strategy beginning with design and running through operation and on-going evaluation.
The campus architecture adopts extensive passive design strategies and highly efficient, state-of-the-art active systems to reduce energy demand. The sub-tropical climate-responsive twin-block design is adopted to harness renewal resources of wind. From MM5 wind rose, summer prevailing wind mainly comes from the east and south where the harbour and the planned open space is located. The towers seem to “float” above the campus with building separations >10m at the narrowest north facade, added building permeability near the street that enhances the urban ventilation and the microclimate and ensure pedestrian and neighbourhood comfort.
77% high-albedo pervious paving and 67.7% roof area has high SRI material adopted.
The linear twin blocks orient north-south to optimise shading and daylight, and minimise its exposure to the western sun to reduce glare issue. More than 80% of the habitable space has an average daylight factor of more than 1%. NC level, mid-frequencies reverberation time, noise isolation and indoor vibration on-site measurements are carried out to demonstrate they comply with BEAM Plus standard.
The indoor air quality is verified by on-site measurement to demonstrate we are doing a lot better compare to both excellent class of IAQ certification scheme and WELL standard, VOCs and Radon level is 60% and 77% below WELL standard requirement respectively, formaldehyde is also below the restricted level.
High percentage of openable windows are provided for natural ventilation especially in summer time, and natural sunlight is optimised through the minimisation of the Western exposure. The “bay-window” with acoustic vent shaft design alleviates noise impact from the railway nearby while promoting cross ventilation.
The campus has been recognised by local and international organisations as a role model of the green built environment, with continual monitoring of the building’s environment performance made possible by built-in sensors, the Campus Environmental Performance Dashboard and the smart app.
A Campus Environmental Performance Dashboard was tailor-made by the design team to monitor and display real-time energy-use data collected by the Building Management System in a graphical user interface, serving as both an optimisation program and a feedback loop which aims to control resource consumption, disseminate resource saving tips and collect user feedback. The dashboard is currently broadcast on the school’s intranet and a physical display station has been proposed for the community plaza.
A smart application integrated with the campus’ HVAC systems and smart sensors was also designed by the design team as a pilot initiative to create a people-centric sustainable learning environment. The application works as such: an occupant of a particular room can log in and comment the room temperature. The system will collect the data while the sensors will detect the occupant’s location and the HVAC system will make the relevant adjustments on demand. After a pre-set time, the HVAC system will return to its energy-saving and comfort default settings. This app and its installations recognise that thermal comfort is dynamic, providing smart on-demand responses to occupants, meeting their expectations in an energy-efficient manner. The positive feedback is supported by the following actual measured data.
Record of relevant Awards
2019 FuturArc Green Leadership Award
– Merit Award (Institutional Category)
2018 A&D China Awards
– Certificate of Excellence
(Architecture (Professional) Best Institution)
2018 Cityscape Awards for Emerging Markets
– Winner (Sustainability Project Award)
2014 Green Building Award
– Grand Award (New Buildings Category – Buildings Projects under Designs)
2014 Cityscape Awards for Emerging Markets
– Winner (Community & Culture Project Award (Future))
- Projected annual operating energy consumption: 132 kWh/m2
- Projected annual carbon emissions related to the operation: 3,224,304 kg CO2e
- Projected/ actual consumption of potable water (Litre/ person/ year): 2,123 L/Person
The following special measures and sustainable features for this building have been adopted:
– Water saving sanitary fittings (lavatory faucets of 0.033 L/s comparing to the baseline case of 0.138 L/s are used), reducing 49% in potable water use
– Rain water harvesting for irrigation system (annual harvested rainwater recycled for reducing fresh water consumption of about 2,521,100 L), high efficiency automatic drip irrigation system with control by climate and adoption of native planting (the fresh water consumption is reduced by 84.6% (more than 50%) in comparison with conventional of water intensive planting);
- Percentage of total planting area/ site area: 38.3%
Through appropriate landscape design, the post-development ecological value has been improved by retaining the existing landscape, enhancing the general health of the vegetation.
Sustainable landscaping strategies enhancing the urban biodiversity include:
A mix of 29 plant species in the development. This can enhance the biodiversity and ecological value compared with only 9 species in pre-development stage.
Introduction of over 150 trees and over 29,000 shrubs, over 30,000 ground cover, over 11,000 climbers. A high percentage of indigenous species are chosen, i.e. 60% of trees, 94% of shrubs, 90% of groundcover and 53% of climber are native species. These species contribute to the local ecosystem by providing shelter and food for native birds.
- Surrounding sensitive neighbouring buildings (residential buildings, office, schools) enjoy adequate daylight access with Vertical Daylight Factor of over 30%.
- Over 83% of all normally occupied spaces are adequately lit with an average daylight factor of 1%.
- Ventilation rates of MVAC system exceed at least 30% of ASHRAE 62.1-2017. Low VOC building materials are used for interior paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants, acoustic baffles, wall panels and green carpets. On-site measurements of the indoor environmental quality have been carried out. VOCs level is 200 μg/m³ or below (60% below the 500 μg/m³ threshold). Formaldehyde is less than 21.98 ppb. Radon is 0.034 Bq/L.
Life-cycle Cost Consideration
Life cycle assessment was carried out at the very early stage of the project, total LCA/LCC Score was 28509.5.
LCA – EMSD LCA/LCC for HK Commercial Buildings
CFD – ANSYS Fluent version 15
Neighbourhood Daylight Access – IESve and RadianceIES
Energy Model – IESve
Natural Daylight – Autodesk Ecotect