This underground high-speed rail terminus will connect Hong Kong to Beijing via the largest rail network in history. Located centrally in Hong Kong, within the city’s existing urban realm, the 430,000 m2 (4.6 million ft2) facility with fifteen tracks will be the largest below-ground station terminus in the world. The site’s prominence immediately adjacent to the future West Kowloon Cultural District and next to Victoria Harbour required a design that was completely motivated by civic demand.
Within the station itself, there was one underlying goal of the scheme. Acting as the ‘gateway’ to Hong Kong, it was considered vital to connect the station with the surrounding urban context and make the traveler aware of their arrival or departure, announcing: ‘You are in Hong Kong.’
To achieve this, the design compacted all of the supporting spaces more efficiently to allow for a very large void down into the departure hall below. The outside ground plane bends down towards the hall, and the roof structure above gestures towards the harbour. The result is a 45-m (148-ft) high volume which focuses all attention through the south façade towards views of the Hong Kong Central skyline and Victoria Peak beyond.
The organization of the design was inspired by the idea of forces converging on Hong Kong – likened to the converging tracks coming into the station. The project maximizes civic gestures both internally and externally. What is highly unusual here is that the station will have an immigration domain for both Hong Kong and China in the same facility, as opposed to the way immigration works in a typical international airport, which is solely the domain of the host country.
The pedestrian paths flow up and access almost the entire rooftop of the station itself, 25 m (82 ft) above ground, in a densely vegetated sculpture garden and landscaped extension of the green below. The resulting 3.5-hectare (8.5-acre) open space offers a spectacular public vista over Victoria Harbour and towards Hong Kong’s skyline.