Passenger Clearance Building

Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port

Located on a 150-hectare, newly reclaimed artificial island northeast of Hong Kong International Airport, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong Port (HKP) is Hong Kong’s entry point to the new HZMB (with approx. 30km long Main Bridge). It is also one of the largest mega engineering projects in the world. The HKP is one of three boundary crossing points in HZMB, with two others located in Zhuhai and Macau, enabling connection between the cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The centrepiece for HZMB HKP, the Passenger Clearance Building (PCB) handles clearance for passengers travelling to and from Hong Kong. As well as providing a hub for transport and travel, PCB also offers a striking and iconic focal point for the development.

Buro Happold was engaged as part of the world-class team of architects and consultants to deliver structural and facade engineering for the PCB, as well as sustainability consulting across the HZMB HKP development.

Facade of Hong Kong Port Passenger Clearance Building against a blue sky
The Passenger Clearance Building’s facade can withstand high winds that are common to the region’s typhoon climate. Image: KERUN IP

Challenge

Reflecting its purpose to enable the travel of passengers, the architectural concept for PCB is inspired by movement. PCB’s striking roof was originally conceived as a doubly curved design featuring highly expressive exposed steelwork. A key challenge for our team was to deliver a roof that would become the distinguishing feature for the project, while minimising construction time and costs. Working closely with AECOM, Aedas and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, we needed to develop a refined design carefully balances the complex architectural vision with efficiency.

Our team was also responsible for the sustainability strategy and BEAM PLUS certification of the buildings within the HZMB HKP masterplan. Given the significance of this project, for both Hong Kong and globally, high sustainability targets were set by the clients.

Tree-like structural columns hold up curved roof of the Hong Kong Port Passenger Clearance Building
Tree-like structural columns create an enhanced sense of spaciousness. Image: KERUN IP

Solution

The steelwork of the wave-like roof has been optimised to efficiently endure Hong Kong’s typhoons, monsoon rains, a marine environment and high humidity, while maximising daylight through the roof skylights. Adding further value, the design also creates long spans, enabling open plan spaces that provide adaptable and flexible use. The facade is fully glazed on all four sides of the building, with louver sections providing shading from the intense Hong Kong sun. Despite the slender nature of the facade structure, the steel and glass system is designed to accommodate the impact of the high winds that are common in the region’s typhoon climate.

To help reduce the cost of the roof’s challenging freeform geometry and to facilitate speedy construction, our team recommended adopting a repetitive, modular approach, as an alternative to the doubly curved concept. This enabled large roof modules to be fabricated, erected and fully clad, both externally and internally, off-site in Zhongshan. Once complete the modules were transported to Zhongshan by land and by cargo ship to a temporary port created on the island. From there, they were taken to the PCB site by self-propelled modular transporters and transferred onto a unique horizontal launching system, which manoeuvred them into their final position. This resulted in a significant reduction in construction time on-site, while also preserving the original architectural intent.

To achieve the highest levels of sustainability, as sustainability consultant we proposed a number of strategies to reduce CO2 emissions, water use and materials sent to landfill during construction. We also undertook computer modelling to allow the building services team to successfully integrate daylight sensors, high efficiency water-cooled centrifugal chillers and occupancy sensors to limit the use of artificial lighting.

Passenger Building's skylights reflecting on the floor below the curved roof
Skylights filter natural light into the building while keeping the heat of the sun out. Image: KERUN IP

Value

The HZMB forms part of a major cross-boundary transportation network that transforms connectivity within the Greater Bay Area. As the architectural “front door” for Hong Kong, PCB is a critical part of the passenger journey.

The client benefited from Buro Happold’s inventive approach to modular prefabrication, which simplified processes to reduce cost while maintaining the intended striking form. Our multidisciplinary team helped to create a highly sustainable and robust building. Combining aesthetic finesse with functionality for visitors, PCB is an exceptional travel facility.

Underside of the Hong Kong Passenger Clearance Building's curved roof
The roof is formed of 81 prefabricated modules, the largest of which weighs approximately 670 tonnes. Image: KERUN IP
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