Hong Kong Chung Wah Nan Architects Ltd (Fitch & Chung)
128 Peak Road, The Peak
Over the recent centuries, the Peak has witnessed the drastic changes in the landscape and skyline of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Originally a retreat destination for British and other wealthy elites in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Peak attracted a steady supply of visitors as the businessman Alexander Finlay Smith started operating the tram routes up to the peak in 1881. In the next decades, more diversified groups of visitors paid visits to the Peak, which eventually needed additional amenities to accommodate the flow of people. Hence in 1972, Peak Tramways Co. Ltd constructed and opened the original upper tram terminal complex to the public. It was built as a commercial venture to accommodate amenities for the growing popularity of the Peak as a recreational destination. The tower’s prime location at Victoria Gap proved valuable for attracting visitors both as a commercial venture and as a cultural icon. The building included a two-storey restaurant tower, from which visitors had panoramic views of both the harbour and the South China Sea at the South of the island. In addition to the restaurant tower, the complex housed numerous public conveniences and facilities in the lower block, including Peak Tramways Co. Ltd.’s office space, supermarket, bank, coffee shop, and etc.
However, the very location that made the complex attractive also posed construction difficulties for the engineers, since they had to drill caisson foundations that went as deep as 120 feet through the rocky ground. Otherwise, the Peak Tower would’ve had a precarious footing at an elevation that high. Another difficulty was in how to facilitate the movement of visitors from the ground-floor part of the complex to the tower itself, which was solved by constructing elevators inside the pillars of the tower.
The tower block maintained this modern and traditional Chinese design until the mid-1990s when it was demolished to be replaced with the work of British architect Sir Terry Farrell that is still standing today. Despite such renovations of the tower complex, it is recognized as a historical and symbolic heritage site of Hong Kong by locals and international visitors alike.