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Animated renderings of HKUST (Guangzhou).
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Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Breaks Ground in Guangzhou

Commissioned by the university, the KPF-designed campus broke ground in Fall 2019 and, upon its completion, will offer a world class, state of the art research campus within the Greater Bay Area region of China.

Located in Nansha, Guangzhou, HKUST (Guangzhou) will cover 1.13 square kilometers of land situated near the high-speed rail station in Qingsheng, offering 30-minute rides to and from Hong Kong. This accessibility will nurture synergy between the two cities and campuses, where academic programs and research will be complementary rather than duplicated. KPF is Lead Design Consultant (LDC) for both the campus master plan and its individual buildings, collaborating with ARUP, ASG, Jacobs, MVA, and James Corner Field Operations.

The master plan strives to create an iconic and memorable campus by combining the needs of HKUST with the natural beauty of the site and the future urban context of the surrounding neighborhoods. Its design will materialize in two phases to accommodate more than 10,000 students and faculty in time and the full range of university facilities: spaces for housing, teaching and research, athletics, performing arts, and their amenities. These specialized facilities converge around a dynamic, central space to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, enhance innovation, and achieve a strong community. The new campus will provide an inspirational environment for students, faculty, and staff to live, work and study, establishing a world-leading standard in higher education for future generations and campuses across China.

James von Klemperer, KPF President and Design Principal, speaks to the project’s design objectives: “KPF is excited and honored to create a world-leading epicenter for science and technology education in Nansha, Guangzhou. The goal is to create a place that encourages innovation and collaboration within an environmentally sustainable framework. While drawing from the success of HKUST and other top universities, we want to design a campus that uniquely expresses its specific locale.”

Bernard Chang, KPF Managing Principal in Hong Kong, looks globally: “The new HKUST campus in Guangzhou will play a significant role in strengthening the collaboration among cities in the Greater Bay Area, propelling the region’s tech-driven economy for decades to come.”

Jill Lerner, KPF Managing Principal in New York, reflects on the firm’s unique preparedness for a project of this scale: “This design challenge enables us to combine prior experience in master planning, academic and research expertise, and placemaking for live-work neighborhoods. Together, these disciplines integrate with a natural setting along the Zhujiang River, where canals and waterways will become true amenities for the campus.”

HKUST (Guangzhou) features exemplary sustainability and resiliency measures, attuned to the site within the rapidly developing, coastal region of mainland China and an area of the world that will witness some of the greatest climate change impact. The master plan incorporates three canals that will embrace the delta and enforce its “zero water waste” goal, collecting and filtering rainwater for reuse and promoting resiliency through flooding and wetland protection. Within the canals’ borders, HKUST (Guangzhou) will be an emission-free campus, in which a smart electric mobility network will support all transportation of resources and people.

Proposed to surround the campus core, the extensive network of green spaces illustrates the design’s focus on future-proofing and ecological renewal, ultimately minimizing its campus footprint and purposefully reserving undeveloped areas for expansion. Both the main outdoor collaboration areas and the buildings themselves will incorporate a combination of active and passive thermal comfort strategies to guarantee the wellbeing and enjoyment of occupants within the humid microclimate of the site. KPF’s Environmental Performance team analyzed options for building orientation to optimize shading and daylight access, allowing the major promenades to be naturally ventilated and cooled in the hot weather.

In all, HKUST (Guangzhou) is targeting carbon neutrality, an effort that will combine high-performance building systems and renewable energy generation on site. This strategy also commits attention to the campus’s goal to be a “living lab” – a permanently unfinished campus that at once empowers its users to learn about their environmental impact and maintain social wellbeing through spaces that promote collaboration and experimentation. This approach creates a place where students and faculty can witness this science in their day-to-day lives.

HKUST (Guangzhou) joins KPF’s portfolio of iconic buildings in China that connect the cities of the Pearl River Delta: the Ping An Finance Centre in Shenzhen, the CTF Finance Centre in Guangzhou, and the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong. The project is also the latest addition to KPF’s academic work, encompassing the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, research facilities at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Centers and the University of Minnesota, and international institutions such as the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford, the new NYU Shanghai campus in Qiantan, and the Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen.