Conceived during a sensitive period in the former colony's history, the brief for the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Headquarters was a statement of confidence: to create 'the best bank building in the world'. Through a process of questioning and challenging − including the involvement of a feng shui geomancer − the project addressed the nature of banking in Hong Kong and how it should be expressed in built form. In doing so it virtually reinvented the office tower.
The requirement to build in excess of a million square feet in a short timescale suggested a high degree of prefabrication, including factory-finished modules, while the need to build downwards and upwards simultaneously led to the adoption of a suspension structure, with pairs of steel masts arranged in three bays. As a result, the building form is articulated in a stepped profile of three individual towers, respectively twenty-nine, thirty-six and forty-four storeys high, which create floors of varying width and depth and allow for garden terraces. The mast structure allowed another radical move, pushing the service cores to the perimeter to create deep-plan floors around a ten-storey atrium. A mirrored 'sunscoop' reflects sunlight down through the atrium to the floor of a public plaza below - a sheltered space, which at weekends has become a lively picnic spot. From the plaza, escalators rise up through the glass underbelly to the banking hall, which was conceived as a 'shop window for banking'.
The 'bridges' that span between the masts define double-height reception areas that break down the scale of the building both visually and socially. A unique system of movement through the building combines high-speed lifts to the reception spaces with escalators beyond, reflecting village-like clusters of office floors. From the outset, the Bank placed a high priority on flexibility. Interestingly, over the years, it has been able to reconfigure office layouts with ease, even incorporating a large dealers' room into one floor − a move that could not have been anticipated when the building was designed.
HSBC Headquarters, Hong Kong
In Hong Kong more than 300,000 litres of a specially modified form of Ronafix was chosen for corrosion protection to the steel structure of the headquarters building of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation designed by Sir Norman Foster.
The Ronafix modified mortar was chosen for protection of the steelwork, after permeability and adhesion testing proved it to be the right weight and performance for the crucial task of protecting the structure from corrosion in the humid marine environment. Without the protection of the two layers of Ronafix modified mortar, exposure to water, airborne salt and CO2 gas would have shortened the life of the building. The design life of the protective Ronafix layer was calculated as being at least 60 years.
The bulk of the concrete protection was applied off-site by sub-contractor Contech-Whitmor JV, to ensure that the shot blasting of the steel and spray application of the two layers of Ronafix mortar was achieved under the strictest quality controlled conditions. This meant that the mortar needed to be not only impermeable but also resistant to the impact and abrasion of being loaded onto junks, transported to site, unloaded and erected. After erection, joints and other sections that had to be left untreated were spray applied on site.
The total contract value for the construction of this world renowned building which has 44 storeys, covers 99,000m2and graces the famous Hong Kong skyline was over $650 million.