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更新时间:2015-9-1 9:50:06 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Little Room for Embellishment in Densely Packed Hong Kong

HONG KONG — Hong Kong is a famously efficient city. Residents pride themselves on the flawless operation of the subway system and the airport. For 21 years in a row, the Heritage Foundation has ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy.

香港——香港是一座众所周知的高效城市。地铁系统和机场完美无瑕的运行让当地居民感到自豪。美国传统基金会(Heritage Foundation)连续21年将香港评为世界上最自由的经济体。

But free markets come at a cost. Easy access to capital, years of record-low interest rates and an acute shortage of supply have made Hong Kong the most expensive place in the world to buy a home. Apartment prices set an all-time high on Aug. 2, according to the brokerage Centaline, up 18 percent in a year. They have risen 158 percent since their post-crisis lows at the end of 2008.


That also makes them the priciest properties that anyone on earth can find. They are “severely unaffordable,” according to the tracking group Demographia, and in 2015 posted the most-extreme figures in the 11-year history of its global housing-affordability survey of 378 metropolitan markets. The average home price is 17 times the median income — 60 percent ahead of Vancouver, British Columbia, the second-most expensive place to save for a home.


The rarefied prices have an inverse effect on architecture and design. First-time visitors to Hong Kong are often shocked by the remarkable uniformity of this densely packed city, full of billion-dollar residential skyscraper towers that are largely interchangeable. Barring a few exceptions, the world’s most-expensive real estate consists of commoditized rectangular boxes of concrete, even at the very high end, that sell for as much as $12,000 per square foot, or $83 per square inch. So the most “luxurious” property in the world in terms of price is the most lacking in imagination.


“The design is always reduced to the maximum profit you can make out of a lot — there’s very little room for embellishment,” said Michael Wolf, a photographer. “That’s why Hong Kong’s skyline is visually so horrible, I would say, unimaginative. It’s all about your bottom line here.”

“大量复制可以赚到最多的钱,所以设计就被缩减了,没有多少装饰的空间,”摄影师迈克尔·伍尔夫(Michael Wolf)说。“所以说香港的天际线在视觉上才如此糟糕,我想说的是,缺乏想象力。在这里考虑的只是利润。”

Mr. Wolf specializes in images that frame Hong Kong’s fearful symmetry. In his series “Architecture of Density,” he removes the sky and ground to fill the image with vertical strings of thousands of windows that ripple together across residential tower after tower, a sheer wall of eye-holed concrete that blends together like the canvas of an abstract painting.

伍尔夫专门拍摄展示香港可怕的对称性的图片。在他的系列作品《密集的建筑》(Architecture of Density)中,他去掉了天空和地面,让整幅照片里填满了数千块窗户,排成竖直的一列的画面。这些窗户在一栋栋住宅楼之间犹如涟漪一般延伸,组成一整堵镶着小孔的高耸的混凝土墙,连在一起就像一幅抽象画的画布。

Though the city’s public housing, which accommodates almost half of Hong Kong’s population, is the worst offender in terms of relentless uniformity, many “luxury” apartment complexes are not much better. They are frequently more colorful but no less repetitive.


Mr. Wolf, who splits his time between Hong Kong and Paris, concedes that the situation has improved marginally since he moved to the city in 1994. The tower-block projects of the 21st century often feature flourishes such as large holes through their midriff that both aid air flow and feng shui, the much-prized “wind-water” concept of Chinese aesthetic design.


There are notable exceptions to the straight-up-and-down residential tower. Frank Gehry designed the twin towers of Opus, a midrise development by Swire Properties, to appear like twisting stalks of thick bamboo. When the apartments opened, gazing toward Victoria Harbor from the site of the colonial mansion that once housed the head of the Taikoo dockyard, Mr. Gehry said he also intended the curves to maximize the views. He wanted each balcony, with its thick wooden rails, to feel like the deck of a large ship.

这种直上直下的住宅楼也存在例外。弗兰克·盖里(Frank Gehry)设计了太古地产(Swire Properties)傲璇(Opus)项目的双塔。这座中层建筑仿佛是拧在一起的两根粗竹竿。这个楼盘坐落的位置,过去曾是殖民时代太古船坞总部所在的豪宅。项目开盘时,盖里说,他还故意设计得让这个弧度可以最大限度地拓展视野。他希望从每一户房屋装着木质扶手的阳台望出去,都感觉像是一艘大船的甲板。

Opus is Mr. Gehry’s first residential project in Asia, and now is home to the most expensive apartment in the world’s most expensive city. At 95,971 Hong Kong dollars per square foot, or $12,380, a 5,188-square-foot duplex with a garden set a record for an Asian apartment in June when it sold to a Danish businessman for 498 million dollars.


Opus and the Henderson Land project 39 Conduit Road have traded places as Hong Kong’s costliest apartment development per square foot. No sooner has one set a new high-water mark than the other surpasses it. One of Hong Kong’s few stand-alone homes reportedly sold for 1.5 billion dollars this summer, or an even-greater 150,000 dollars per square foot.

傲璇和恒基兆业(Henderson Land)旗下的楼盘天汇(39 Conduit Road)轮番产生香港尺价最高的房屋。一个楼盘刚刚产生新的最高价,另一个楼盘就会赶超过去。据报道,香港为数不多的独栋房屋中,有一栋今年夏天报出了15亿港元的成交价,也就是更为高昂的每平方英尺15万港元。

In April, 39 Conduit Road set the previous apartment record when a Singaporean buyer identified as Wang Shuang spent 434 million dollars for a 4,664-square-foot apartment, which is 93,000 dollars per square foot.

上一个楼价纪录诞生于今年4月,由天汇楼盘创下。当时一位名叫王爽(Wang Shuang)的新加坡籍买家,花费4.34亿港元,购买了一套4664平方英尺的公寓,尺价93000港元。

Many locals blame mainland Chinese buyers for driving up prices in Hong Kong. At their peak in late 2011, they managed to buy a record 42 percent of new apartments in the city — via whatever means, since it is technically legal to take only $50,000 out of China per year. They now account for around 11 percent of new purchases.


In all, 39 Conduit Road has 41 stories. But the schematics skip any number ending in 4, which sounds like “death” in Cantonese, and dub the top three levels the 66th, 68th and 88th floors, auspicious numbers promising wealth and long life.


It is nowhere near as creative in its exterior design. It is a standard tower, albeit with a sharp-edged facade that flares at a 135-degree angle to maximize harbor-facing views.


Its occasional clusters of tightly packed horizontal ridges, which mask uglier essentials like air-conditioning units, bring to mind the grille of a classic 1950s car.


The most remarkable aspect of 39 Conduit Road is its engineering. The building gets deeper as it gets higher, with three “steps” on the way up that add a total of nine feet of added width and depth to the highest floors, compared with the base. The added land mass places considerable extra weight on the structure, but the developer calculated that the additional cost was worthwhile.


“Not only do we have to deal with a bigger structure, but the challenge is bigger as you go higher,” said Phiyona Au-yeung, the director of residential design at the building’s architects. “But in Hong Kong, the view is equal to dollars.”

“我们要面对不仅是建筑体量更大的问题,真正的挑战在于在楼层更高的地方实现更大面积。”这栋建筑的住宅设计总监欧阳明诗(Phiyona Au-yeung)说道。“不过,在香港,房屋景色的好坏,和价格高低是直接相关的。”

Ms. Au-yeung’s firm, Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers, or DLN, is one of Hong Kong’s best-known homegrown architectural firms. DLN has also designed the sleek curves of HighCliff, an exceptionally tall, exceptionally thin residential skyscraper. Together with its similarly proportioned neighbor, the Summit, they make up the two “chopsticks” that tower over Happy Valley.

欧阳明诗所在的刘荣广伍振民建筑师事务所(Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers,简称DLN),是香港最知名的本土建筑事务所之一。DLN还设计了一栋名为晓庐(HighCliff)、有光滑曲面的摩天住宅楼,这栋楼体异常高,也不同寻常的细。它的旁边是建筑比例与之相似的御峰(Summit),两座并立的高楼看起来就好像是矗立在跑马地之上的两根“筷子”。

With its sleekly curving facade and tightly rounded corners, HighCliff is, like Opus, one of Hong Kong’s most instantly recognizable residential buildings. It placed second behind only the Gherkin in London (proper name: 30 St. Mary Axe) in the Emporis Skyscraper Award when it was completed in 2003.

凭借弧度优美的外立面和紧致圆形角落的设计,晓庐和傲璇一样,是香港最具辨识度的住宅楼之一。2003年完工时,它在安波利斯摩天楼大奖(Emporis Skyscraper Award)的评比中仅落后于伦敦的“小黄瓜”(准确的名字是:圣玛莉艾克斯30号)。

Ms. Au-yeung concedes that even the most luxurious apartments in Hong Kong tend to be rectangular boxes, but she says that is what Hong Kong buyers desire. Furniture fits better, and there is none of the “dead space” that comes with odd-shaped curves and corners.


Ms. Au-yeung, who spent several years working in Seattle, believes there is another root cause behind the general lack of originality in Hong Kong: the government that approves all projects. In the West, proposed structures are typically judged by a design-review board made up of a panel of professionals.


“They look at it as a holistic project,” she said. “Our system does not have that. It is very by the book, very black and white.”


The demand for more-original architecture and properties, though, ultimately comes from the end user. There is a communitywide lack of appreciation of architecture as an art form, according to Wong Wah Sang, a professor of architecture at the University of Hong Kong. He believes the high price of Hong Kong property trumps looks and all.

然而,对更有创意的建筑和房地产的需求,最终来自终端用户。香港大学的建筑系教授黄华生(Wong Wah Sang)表示,整个城市都缺少把建筑当做一种艺术形式来欣赏的态度。他认为,香港房地产的高价的重要性超过了外观和其他一切。

“In Hong Kong, these places are investments,” Professor Wong said. “You are happy not because the building offers you good design. You are happy because you buy something, and the next day it increases 1 percent.”