Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What makes a Mixed-Use Development?

We conducted this research in 2010, in order to understand the complexity of the most common contemporary typology: The Mixed-Use Development. The introduction of this typology with a podium-tower-configuration has radicalized and transformed the use of the city over the past fifty years. What we were interested in is what kind of programs make a successful development, how is the programmatic distribution influencing the typology and what kind of circulatory systems are used to activate such a complex and large scale development. The action field of our research was Hong Kong, where the urbanization has radicalized more than in other cities in terms of density, hybridization of program and innovation in typological mix.

Various developments have been analyzed based on the programmatic mix, the vertical distribution of program (Podium-Tower) and the vertical circulatory system. The result of this research is a compendium of mixed use typologies and their content:

The interesting aspect is, that the architecture of such mixed use complexes is rather irrelevant, as they develop an internalized microcosmos of architectural urbanism. Interior has replaced architecture as a form of cultural identity. Program has replaced space as a form of social identity.

As architects, a strong and blatant emphasis on economic and commercial activities of a development makes us feel hurt in our self esteem. The core knowledge of our discipline as the masters of space doesn't apply here. We feel threatened and ignored. Yet these developments create life in a much more powerful way than our understanding of space could ever give birth to. And indeed, we should feel threatened by the fact, that not the architect is the one who determines the vibrancy of the urban life, but the developer and the business consultant.

As those developments are extremely successful throughout the world in terms of generating life and urban activities within themselves, they are worth a deeper theoretical architectural investigation. What they can teach us is a lesson that we could apply back to the core city, a lesson on how to activate the city through the hybridization of architecture and urbanism.

Team: Ulrich Kirchhoff, Louise Low, Chak Pui Chuen, Chan Kam Fung, Chan Wai To, Cheung Wan Tao, Lai Lok Sung, Lau Ming Yan, Lee Lit Hei, Lloyd-Evans Jane Louise, Lui Kam Fung, Woo Yin Shan, Yan Kit Man, Yuen Suet Ying

© 2011, ice - ideas for contemporary environments


  1. Hi,

    I am a 5th year student studying Architecture at the University of Auckland. As part of my thesis I am studying the intense urbanism of Hong Kong. I came across to your blog and your analysis of the mixed use podium tower typology are very interesting and I would love to include it in my thesis, fully referred for your credits. So I was just wondering if you can send me some of the diagrams above at a larger resolution (especially Langham Place). I would be grateful of your help as it is quite difficult to find information about HK in New Zealand.
    My email: wlo023@aucklanduni.ac.nz

    Thanks heaps!


  2. Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for the request and comment. We will try to help you asap.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hello uk,

    I have a similar request as Michelle from the previous post although a year later! I am studying 5th yr Masters of Architecture at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia. Our studio aims to design a mixed-use tower in the middle of Sydney CBD.

    I was hoping to also get larger resolutions of your diagrams above as there is very little information around regarding the highrises of Hong Kong accessible in Australia. Your images are very impressive in their simplicity and clarity.

    I will not reuse any of your material without crediting yourself or the original author.

    my email is: mak.kev@gmail.com
    I am also making a blog like yours at www.mindmak.com.

    Appreciate any help.


  4. Dear author(s),

    I am an Environment & Interior Design designer in Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design. Now I am in the project of Chung King Mansions which is a very interesting third world global commercial system in the same city of the malls you studied but in quite different program. I am very interesting with your amazing works and hope to have deeper discussions with you guys as well as sharing our studies. Hope to get your most convenient contact method. Looking forward to hear from you.
    P.S. My fb account is Shen Collin and my E-mail account is shenkangyi.heartfire@gmail.com


  5. Hi Uk,

    I am Paul, a M.Arch student in Toronto studying mixed use building designs. Impressive work! May you send me a larger resolution of those diagrams? I will credit the work if I will use it though its mainly for reference.

    My email is paul.tsang7@gmail.com

    Thanks for your help!


  6. Hi Uk,

    I am Keira, a M.Arch student at the University of Melbourne who is now studying a Hong Kong urbanism as my research topic. Your research is really interesting and may you send me a higher resolution of your study diagrams? I will fully refer to your credits and I would be very grateful for your help! Thank you for your attention.

    My email is kwu@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thanks a lot for your help!


  7. Good morning,

    I’m Aude, a 5th year student, studying Architecture at the University of Versailles in France. Just like you I think Hong Kong is a really interesting city with great example of mixed-use developments. I’m currently working on the tower-podium typology and its different uses.
    I’m very interested with your impressive works and i would love to take a deeper look at your diagrams to help me in my research, in order to get a better understanding of the way the podium is organized, distributed and crossed. Is it possible to send me some images with a higher resolution?
    My email: audemarion@hotmail.fr
    Thank you, thank you for your help !