In Hong Kong, steel construction is often adopted in areas where the foundation is weak, and thus use of steel construction can reduce self-weights of a building. While for high-rise buildings of more than 250 meters, steel-concrete composite structures are more common. In general, self-weights of buildings and wind loads often control structural design of most buildings. As for seismic design, there is no mandatory requirement in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's steel industry was evolved from a booming shipbuilding industry in the 1950s. The shipbuilding industry created a lot of talents in fabrication and steel erection, and welding technology and testing. Their diligent and hard work has laid a solid foundation for development of modern steel structures in Hong Kong. In the 1970s and 1980s, the infrastructure of Hong Kong was developed rapidly, and a number of structural steel buildings were built on the two sides of the Victoria Harbour, and they soon became the landmarks of Hong Kong.
In the 1970s, Hong Kong's high-rise buildings were mainly designed by British structural engineers. British structural steel from Britain would be shipped across half of the world to Hong Kong. Therefore, steel construction was very expensive and rare. One of the classic examples is the HSBC Building in the Central of the Hong Kong Island.
The current HSBC Building is fourth generation of the building. The entire building is 180 meters high with 46 floors and 4 levels of basement, and a total of 30,000 metric tons of steel and 4,500 metric tons of aluminum being used. Most of the components used in the construction of the building were prefabricated. The steel components were made in the U.K., while the glass and aluminum housings and floorings were made in the U.S.A., and the service facilities were manufactured in Japan.
From the 1980s to the 1990s, most of the high-rise steel structures in Hong Kong were designed by British structural engineers while Hong Kong engineers provided assistance in many ways. Japanese steel contractors were able to provide equivalent design plans and propose steel materials from different regions and countries which also met the British steel material standards:
- Japanese steel was adopted for large steel components in key structural parts, such as primary structural members in key loading frames, and large span girders in high-rise buildings.
- For other secondary frames and beams, hot rolled steel from different parts of the world such as Belgium, South Africa, Australia, etc. were adopted.
Other examples include the Bank of China Tower in the Central; The Center and the Cheung Kong Centre in the Queen's Road Central; and the Tsing Ma Bridge with a main span of 1,377 meters. As Hong Kong engineers are familiar with British building design standards, they are able to participate in Commonwealth countries, and successfully developed the international construction market, and to do their business in a number of Asian countries and the Middle East region.
In the millennium, more and more high-rise buildings were designed by both British and Hong Kong engineers while British steel is still being commonly used to facilitate direct cost comparisons of projects. Nevertheless, Hong Kong and China's contractors are able to provide equivalent steel design, and use high quality domestic steel materials. Examples include the Two International Finance Center in the Central; the International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon; and the Stonecutters’ Bridge with a main span of 1,018 meters.
In the recent years, many large scale hotels and resort facilities in Macau have been designed and constructed by Hong Kong engineers together with a full range of construction professionals, including project managers of Hong Kong construction industry, architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors, building materials suppliers, third-party supervision and testing agents, etc. They provided huge contribution to these construction projects. It is worth noting that these large scale hotels and resort facilities were designed according to the U.S.A. standards, and built by Chinese contractors and fabricators using Chinese building materials. Due to strict construction requirements, but limited construction time allowed, steel construction was being adopted in many buildings. As a result, Hong Kong construction professionals have gained first-hand experience of the latest international construction standards in accordance with U.S.A. engineering standards, as well as supported the China's construction industry, especially the Chinese steel construction industry. Accumulation of international standards on engineering and technical experiences in the industry is a very important capital for the construction industry in Hong Kong, which should be further developed to assist the China’s construction industry to work to the international construction market.
Steel Construction in Hong Kong
Review and Prospect Special Report on 30th Anniversary of China Steel Construction Society
Professor K. F. Chung
Hong Kong Constructional Metal Structures Association
26th October 2014