Over the weekend, I was able to explore Hong Kong a bit more. This time, by myself!

Early morning excitement for the day’s adventure

I set out to Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣) early in the morning on Saturday and was able to hit all of the places on my list.

The first stop for the day was Hysan Place. I specifically chose to visit this 32-story mixed-use commercial building because it is BEAM Plus and LEED Platinum certified. If you’re from the US, I’m sure you know LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the US rating system for sustainable design. Well, BEAM is basically the Hong Kong version of LEED.

I took High Performance Buildings (DEA 2040) with Professor Hua during the Spring 2017 semester and fell in love with high performance and sustainable building design. I decided I would take this chance to apply the knowledge I had gained during the semester into practice here in Hong Kong.

Hysan Place has a really interesting open-air design concept, especially for a retail outlet/office space. I have never been in a mall that is completely open to its environment. Usually when I think of malls, I think of a huge air-conditioned box that is virtually completely closed off from the outside world. Not exactly the most environmentally-friendly building to come to mind. However, Hysan Place is the exact opposite of that. It uses what they call “urban windows” which are basically large openings in the lower levels of the building that improve air circulation in the neighborhood.

An urban window with escalators leading in and out of the mall

The building also employs several green roof structures that help keep the building cool, combat the heat island effect, and serve a purpose for the upkeep of the building and the community. This includes an urban farm on the rooftop that serves as an educational hub, a Sky Wetland that reuses grey water from the office units, and a vertical green wall. The building employs a mixed-mode ventilation system and maximizes on task lighting to reduce energy usage. It also utilizes light shelves, drapery, and low-E double glazing windows to take full advantage of the fantastic natural lighting available in Hong Kong without introducing too much glare.

Large ceiling opening letting in natural light

It was so interesting to truly see the material I studied in my class in action and fulfilling to know that I understand the purpose behind each decision made in the building’s design. It made me excited to go back and take more DEA (Design & Environmental Analysis) courses at Cornell. I also enjoy window shopping and got to do plenty of that at Hysan Place! If you want to learn more about the building, you can take a look at their BEAM profile here.

The next place on my list was Ichiran Ramen. I had discovered this place long before I knew I was going to Hong Kong. It is famous for its novelty concept for single person dining. The inside of the restaurant is filled with long hallways sectioned off for each individual person. The diner has walls on all three sides of the table that act as shields against interaction with other diners and the waiter. It is the ultimate dining experience because you can thoroughly enjoy your food without thinking about what anyone else thinks of the way you are slurping the soup, how your chopsticks look in your hand, or whether your face is red from the heat of the chili. You don’t have to talk to anyone and can just focus on your food. I took this chance to eat at the restaurant for lunch. Although the food was nothing too special, I had a great time because I love to eat silently (something that company will not always appreciate).

Ramen for one

The last place I went to was the Hong Kong Jockey Club Racing Museum. It has free admission and is very educational so I highly recommend it! The Jockey Club (香港賽馬會) is such an essential part of Hong Kong. HKUST was funded by the charity that the Jockey Club runs. A lot of buildings on campus have “Hong Kong Jockey Club” in their names; even my dorm is called “Jockey Club Hall”. The museum is near Happy Valley and is housed on the second floor of the Jockey Club Building. On display are old racing gear that once belonged to famous jockeys, as well as memorabilia from old betting tickets to badges. There is also a timeline of the Jockey Club’s racing and charity achievements. It was great to finally get a chance to learn more about a very important part of Hong Kong’s culture and history.

A view of the Jockey Club building from the outside

Overall, I had an amazing time on my day out. I had forgotten how much much I like to wander around on my own, so I was really grateful to have this opportunity to do just that. On top of that, I had an educational trip and a good meal!