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Bibliography & References

1. Ng, E. (2015) Designing High Density Cities For Social & Environmental Sustainability. London, UK. Earthscan.

2. Bougdah, H. (2010) Environment, Technology & Sustainability. Abingdon, UK. Taylor and Francis.

3. Cheung, Y.K., Chau, K.W. (2005) Tall Buildings: From Engineering to Sustainability. Singapore. World Scientific Publishing Co.

4. Sayigh, A. (2014) Sustainability, Energy and Architecture: Case Studies in Realizing Green Buildings. Kidlington, Oxford, UK. Elsevier.

5. Williamson, T, (2002) Understanding Sustainable Architecture. London, UK. Spon Press.

6. Yuen, B (2011) High-Rise Living in Asian Cities. London, UK. New York, US. Springer.

7. Wood, A (2014) Green Walls in High-Rise Buildings. Australia. Images Publishing.

8. Sassi, P. (2006) Strategies for Sustainable Architecture. Abingdon, UK. Taylor & Francis.

9. Williams, D. (2007) Sustainable Design: Ecology, Architecture and Planning. Hoboken, New Jersey. John Wiley & Sons.

10. J, H. Bay. (2006) Tropical Sustainable Architecture: Social and Environmental Dimensions. Oxford, UK. Elsevier Ltd.

11. Hall, K. (2005) The Green Building Bible. Second Edition. Llandysul, Wales, UK. Green Building Press.

12. Russell, B (2015) Fifty Under Fifty: Innovators of the 21st Century. Mulgrave, Australia. The Images Publishing Group Pty Ltd.

13. Schittich, C (2004) High-Density Housing: Concepts, Planning, Construction. Munich, Germany. Birkhäuser.

14. Burchard, J (2015) Sustainable Architecture: Energy- Efficient & Environmental Friendly- New Tendency of Current Buildings. Hong Kong, China. Hi-Design International Publishing Co, Ltd.


Figure 1: Ng, E. (2015) Designing High Density Cities For Social & Environmental Sustainability [Diagram]. London, UK. Earthscan.

Figure 2: Burchard, J (2015) Sustainable Architecture: Energy- Efficient & Environmental Friendly- New Tendency of Current Buildings. [Illustration].  Hong Kong, China. Hi-Design International Publishing Co, Ltd.

Dissertation Research Proposal


The implementation of Sustainability into high-density cities: Hong Kong.

Problem Statement:

Urbanization and rising population has led to high-density cities such as Hong Kong to be in a demand for space. Perhaps the concept of sustainability will help give a positive impact to the ever-growing statistics. Researching into why sustainable architecture are needed to meet the demands of the future, and existing sustainable interventions to be implemented into high density cities.

Aim: Developing sustainable architectural solutions to a high-density city.


-Advantages and disadvantages of Hong Kong high-rise buildings.

-Social, Environmental and Economical Factors that are considered to implementing sustainability.

-Future sustainable interventions for Hong Kong.

Key Questions:

-High Rise Buildings: A problem or solution? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

-Compare & contrast architecture of a high-density city and a low-density city?

-What are the approaches to help improve cities like Hong Kong?

-Why do we want sustainable buildings? What defines a sustainable building? How can we achieve sustainable buildings?

Literature Review:   


With an outstanding accumulation of statistics in the world’s growing population and urbanization, these numbers are continued to be on the rise. The world’s population is not span evenly across the land’s mass, indicating that there is a need for ways to accommodate individuals in such high-density countries.

Professor Ng and many other scholars delve into the evidence for and against designing cities with high densities, with an approach of sustainability. ‘High density (not high rise) is the inevitable future.’ (Roaf, 2010)

It is argued that high-density living has a positive impact. Encouraging individuals to live at a closer proximity, to gain social interactions, reducing the use of transports, which improves environmental and health benefits. Although such benefits of living in dense cities meant that there are also disadvantages such as over-crowdedness (Freedman, 1975), noise pollution and reduced privacy. This could be argued that the traditional methodology of designing high-density cities should be discontinued.

‘High density, defined as a large number of people living on a small area of land.’ (Commoner, 1971) The big question, however; is high-rise buildings the only option to a high-density city? It is questionable whether high-density cities are perceived as a sustainable solution or an ever-growing problem. ‘The meaning of high density is a matter of perception; it is subjective and dependent upon the society or individual’s judgement against specific norms.’ (Cheng, 2010) In this case, Roaf concludes that it is difficult to fully evaluate the question, as this is dependent on the extent of the density. Perhaps rather than seeking for an answer, sustainable actions could be taken.

Land scarcity being the reality of high-density cities, it is a challenge to bring urban greenery into parks and landscaping. Therefore Yeang believed that although implementing rooftop landscape and greenery in high-rise buildings can be limiting, skyscrapers should have a ratio of one to seven of building versus plants. ‘Covering two-thirds of the façade with green will increase the organic mass on the site.’ (Yeang, 1996)

‘High-rise buildings should establish sustainability as well as build artistic and culturally sustainable buildings through design multiplicity.’ (Sung, 2008) This indicates that other than reusing the same design again, architects should innovate new ways to meet the needs of individuals but also place importance of aesthetics of the architecture.

High-rise, high amenity and high design. These are the three aspects of design that Hong Kong should focus on. Eco-density is a concept within city planning that revolves around reducing ecological footprint and preventing climate change. High amenity entails conveniences and close-by facilities for the community, as this will allow places to be easily accessible. High design involves finding solutions in constituting a good indoor and outdoor environment design for high-rise development.


The book delves into different factors of architectural design. In this instance, the focus will be placed on the architect’s perspective of sustainability in the UK.

‘BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment method) is the world’s first building environmental rating system.’ (Bougdah, 2010) The factors include transport, health and wellbeing, pollution and materials and many more. This indicates that there are many aspects to consider that contribute to a well-developed sustainable design.


Sustainability has been emphasised in the context of Hong Kong, where tall buildings are to be developed to meet the emergence of growing ‘urban density of 6300 persons per km squared.’ There are several sustainable strategies suggested. ‘Developments has included waste management, renewable energy, urban space and balancing sustainable factors.’

There have been several solutions informed to the government of Hong Kong to encourage green features such as ‘communal gardens, sunshades and reflectors, wind catchers and noise barriers.’ (Lo, 2005). The need for green architecture is expanded within this book, justifying the demand in adopting sustainability within high-density cities. ‘Energy efficient designs and renewable energy sources in buildings have become a world trend in striving for a sustainable future.’ (Lo, 2005) The inevitable growing capacity of population and urbanization leads to perceiving high-density cities as a problem. However the sustainability integration will help reduce the energy usage, diminish the use of fossil fuels and develop new ways to designing architecture.


‘Do buildings and cities, in the way they are currently built, contribute to green economy and growth?’ (Aboulnaga, 2014) The book illustrates how sustainability enhances architecture in the long term, but also seeks for solutions such as renewable energy, and promoting energy-efficient buildings. There are features to classifying a sustainable building, such as site and surroundings, energy efficiency, renewable energy use, water consumption, materials etc.


Perhaps the implementation of sustainability in Hong Kong is appropriate due to giving aid to the damage made towards the surrounding environment. ‘A building with a creative concept is sensitive to its environment, protecting environment from pollution caused by human habitation.’ (Williamson, 2002)


 ‘It is argued that high-density cities can be improved through extensive planning, management and design.’ (Yeh, 2000)  This can be achieved through making buildings taller with low building density to increase the extended shared space.

Figure 1: Low Rise Building with high building density versus tall building with low building density.

The high-density development in Hong Kong is the result of limited land that led to the increased prices. ‘Many studies have shown that high-density is not desirable, such as poor air quality, ventilation, daylight, lack of open space and noise pollution.’ The frequent argument in tall buildings is its lack of contribution to urban sustainability. Yuen suggests that there are possibilities in ‘garden and ecology, providing settings for community interactions.’  (Yuen, 2011) This supporting evidence will be an aid to the implementation of sustainability in strengthening high-density cities.


Many countries have begun to make use of green walls to high-rise buildings. ‘The largest disappointments with modern cities are the globalized template for high-rise architecture. These cities look the same, they have not progressed aesthetically beyond the Modernist from 1950s.’ (Wood, 2014) The need for green architecture has been emphasised by several architects, striving the environmental challenges that we live in ‘cities made of green, in a literal, rather than tangential, way.’ (Yeang, 1974) Green façade buildings not only help benefit the aesthetics of a building but also help insulate the interior and reduce air pollutants, in order to improve air quality.


‘More individuals are moving to cities at the end of the twentieth century, with an expectation of sixty percent increase by 2030.’ (Girardet, 2004) With urbanization persisting to grow, it is inevitable that cities will become more and more compacted, however it is also described as ‘efficient living’.

Although compact cities make use of the land, it has been stated that in prospective designs to ‘create public spaces and more green areas that enhance people’s health and quality of life.’ (Sassi, 2006) In giving high-density developments, this will create communities where people will stay throughout many generations.


In the city of Saint Paul, sustainable architecture and river principles were applied in reconnecting the community but also embracing Mississippi’s natural produce. Land use decisions should integrate ‘liveable, walkable-community design and civic amenities.’ Along with making connections, water conservation is important in ‘connecting people, neighbourhoods and commerce.’ Hong Kong should maintain its architectural identity through the use of local materials and construction. ‘This will help support its local labour force and renewable building resources.’ (Williams, 2007)


Despite Hong Kong as the one of the most populated cities, it has surprising statistics of being the most energy efficient globally. ‘Its per capita energy consumption is about forty percent of the UK.’ (Ng, 2006)  This is considering that inhabitants do not have to travel far and the reliance of public transport.  However the problem with high-density cities is the ‘amount of waste produced per square metre.’ Therefore there should be different ways in optimising land use and also designing for high-density. ‘Natural indoor and outdoor conditions would in turn form pleasant spaces and be conducive to human activities.’ (Blocken and Carmeliet, 2004) Creating more balcony spaces within a high-rise building such as offices will enable people to connect but also develop more green lands.


Economics, social and environmental are three important factors that are thought to encapsulate building sustainability. Longevity of a building is crucial, as this indicate that the choice of materials have to be durable in order to withstand a long life. Future architecture in Hong Kong could implement transportable and transformable sustainable housing to continue reusing their own homes however enabling them to move into different locations. A modular architecture that reduces the waste and energy produced, but also flexible to suit the individual’s lifestyle.


One example of sustainable housing is Bjarke Ingel’s 8 house in Copenhagen, Denmark. The mixed development project comprises of different residential homes, retails and offices. ‘The apartments are placed at the top, receiving maximum sunlight and fresh air, while the commercial is situated at the bottom merging with life on the street.’ The architecture also has green sloping roofs which helps reduce heat and its form provides natural light and ventilation. The shape deviates from the typical tall building or housing complexes, this exemplifies a new typology that could evolve high density living in Hong Kong. The project places strong emphasis in ‘hedonistic’ sustainability and also community integration.


‘There is a need for new concepts for high density housing.’ (Schittich, 2004) High-density housing are more than just buildings. They require careful consideration of access, living, green spaces in the surrounding, social factors of inhabitants and many more. Many high-rise buildings lack social interactions due to the inability to connect with the outdoor space. Hong Kong’s average of 150m building height lead individuals to be prevented from stranger interaction, causing social problems in establishing a community.

Building floor plans should take account in responding to shifting social conditions, as this creates spaces that can be adjusted according to a variety of different families. Flexibility of apartments will enable spaces to be reused again for many generations, but also lives up to a sustainable cycle for building materials, community and costs.


Hong Kong Design Institute by CAUU is an example of a sustainable approach. The architecture demonstrates cross ventilation in which enhances airflow, conservation of water through collecting rainwater, solar shading and careful consideration of materials. The structure is designed to address the environmental and social issues that are problematic in Hong Kong such as air pollution and disconnection of community within high-rise buildings.

The form of the building capacitates public usage, which creates spaces for individuals to make interactions. Urban greenery surrounds the architecture, bringing natural resource conservation, as the city is deficit of these spaces. This composite reinforced concrete structure and diagrid system of the façade enables natural daylight and airflow majority of the space efficiently.

Figure 2: Illustrations of Hong Kong Design Institute referring to the design’s symbolism.

Outline Methodology:

• Researching into the title of the dissertation, expanding ideas of arguments.

• Look into books, eBooks, reports, journals and online sources in how sustainability is important and elaborating why high-density cities such as Hong Kong need this.

• Surveying local architects of Hong Kong, getting primary information of what is needed now and the future.

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