Can public infrastructure play a bigger role beyond its functional requirements?

Tai Po Kau Tide Gauge Station located at the tip of the Tai Po Railway Pier is one of the key tide gauge stations of the Hong Kong Observatory which provides weather measurement, observation and prediction. For over 60 years, it has been playing a significant role in safeguarding the city’s safety at times of tropical cyclone passage. To ensure its continued role in protecting the city against extreme weather, we proposed a revived Tide Gauge Station that not only served its purpose as a station for weather measurement, but as a publicly enjoyable feature as well.

Situated along the Tolo Harbour waterfront cycling route, Tai Po Railway Pier is a popular destination for locals and visitors. Considering this advantageous location, our design is not only a functional station of HKO but also a unique anchor point for social enjoyment.

The design aims to bridge the dual nature of the tide gauge station and ensure both operational and social expectations can be fulfilled. The often-neglected access staircases which originally serve only a practical need are transformed into a prominent external feature and public furniture. The cantilevered access platform also serves as shelter to benefit the public on the ground.

Under the strict spatial and structural requirements, especially the projected elevation areas, lightweight metal mesh panels are adopted on the north-west and south-east elevations. The open enclosure gives a unified design and iconic appearance to the tide gauge station while imposing minimal loading to the main structure.

The façade of the TGS cabinet makes use of translucent polycarbonate glazing panel to transmit an even diffusion of natural light and provide a comfortable internal working environment during daytime while minimize the use of artificial lighting. At night, the cabinet is lighted up from the inside like a floating lantern and provides guidance for navigation at land and sea.

Meanwhile, the glazing panel offers high impact resistance, water tightness and thermal insulation in response to its coastal location. To minimize site works and construction time, the structure is carefully planned, demarcated and grouped. Each part is prefabricated off-site and delivered in sequence for on-site assembly.

Hong Kong