Christian Zheng Sheng
Ha Keng Centre

Programme: Rehabilitation Center
Site: Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Size: 2,100 sqm (CFA)
Completion Date: In progress



The site is set in a valley surrounded by beautiful natural vegetation in a remote island in Hong Kong. The only means of access is a sampan (or a single-engine walawala as the locals call it) from the nearest island. The client would like to build a new facility to house 120 juveniles aged between 15 to 22. Most of them were sent by the court to this facility because of substances abuse and misdemeanor. They are currently “squattering” along the valley as their temporary shelter and are eager to be relocated to a more formal facility.


It is precisely this sense of remoteness which forces the teenagers to confront with their pasts. The untouched yet serene nature provides a sounding board to reflect and ponder on their future. A tremendous sense of spiritual solitude is coupled with a strong sense of brotherhood/sisterhood bonded amongst them.

The ACT of building:

The entire structure is built on stilts to minimize disturbance to the landscape. Three building blocks, oriented slightly different than each other to maximize light and ventilation exposure, cascade down the valley, it follows the natural terrain of the site. The upper and lower blocks house workshops, classrooms and dormitory. The layout is according to the level of privacy as the users move from downhill to uphill. The middle block houses the dining hall and a teaching kitchen. It is also the heart of the facility to provide gathering and assembly space. 


The remoteness of the site prohibits any kind of large scale machinery or large prefabrication pieces to access the site economically. The “All-in-one” nature of the facility demands a maximum spatial and programmatic flexibility to accommodate the clients’ forever changing mode of operation. We design an up-turn beam, two-way slab cast-in-place concrete structural system to eliminate any needs for internal columns or exposed ceiling beams within the building volume. The result is maximum layout flexibility & floor to ceiling height which allows for best natural ventilation since the building, at the clients’ requests, is not air-conditioned.(Summer in Hong Kong can reach up to 36 Celsius with relative humidity of 98%!)


Cast-in-place concrete was chosen not only for economic reason, but also we envision employing the physical labor of these young teenagers to transport literally bucket by bucket of aggregates on a ten minutes trail between ferry drop-off and the building site. All plywood formworks remain on site will be treated and recycled as future furniture pieces fabricated by the teenagers themselves in the woodwork training workshop. The teenagers are participants in building their own home.