Reaching for the sky

Reaching for the sky

Taking a leaf from their school, students wow contest judges with park idea that leans close to nature


Sky tree_L
Photo: Nora Tam
Four friends from the Hong Kong Design Institute may not have won the grand prize at the recent Gift Design Ideas Competition – but they’re proud that their idea for an eco-friendly building came close.

Manson Chan King-man, Kenny Lee Ka-wai, Chris Ng Tsz-fung and Thomas Tang Yu-tsun went up against the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University and even professional architects.

In the end, they were awarded Best Youth Entry and were runners-up in the Open Group category (just points shy of the champions, who are professional designers around 10 years older) for their Sky Tree design.

The competition is run by the Science and Technology Parks Corporation to raise awareness about green technology and sustainability.

The winning designs will be considered for use in Phase 3 of the Science Park – which is tipped to be a world-class facility where companies can develop and test their products.

The quartet from the Design Institute, which is part of the Vocational Training Council, said they got a lot of inspiration from their campus in Tseung Kwan O.

Their Sky Tree proposal featured a glass sunroof that uses sustainable energy. The same feature can be found at their school’s Learning Resource Centre and library, which also boasts a sunny and relaxing roof garden.

“With the glass roof design, electricity consumption is reduced, since you don’t have to turn on the lights until the evening when it’s dark,” explains Chan, a third-year Exhibition Design student.

“The building in our design is also very spacious, with well-distributed light,” he added.

“Our library helped inspire our design as it is very well-lit because of all the full-length windows there,” said Tang, a third-year Interior Design student.

“We actually have a view of the Pacific Ocean because the windows are so big and there are so many of them. [So it] not only helps the environment by using less electricity for light, but also helps with our creativity,” he added.

Being based on a campus in hilly, leafy Tseung Kwan O means the group spends a lot of time close to nature. This gave them an advantage when it came to imagining green solutions.

In comparison, their toughest competitors study in the city centre, next to an MTR station, or in office cubicles, like the professional designers and architects.

“The roof garden at our campus is very inspiring and thought-provoking,” said Ng, another third-year Exhibition Design student.

“There is lots of greenery and we had our brainstorming sessions there. This definitely helped coming up with ideas for our design.”

But this doesn’t mean that the competition was a breeze for the institute students.

They were up against the students from some of the best universities in Asia, employing well-known professors and staff.

But in design competitions such as Gift, it’s not academic standing or university rankings, but creativity and inspiration that are important. And Chan, Lee, Ng and Tang count themselves lucky that they were able to find just what was needed.

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