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HKUST(GZ), Guangzhou

Shaping a campus of the future

Located in Guangzhou’s Nansha district, the new campus of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology – HKUST(GZ) – marries nature with technology in the local urban context, targeting carbon neutrality and zero water waste.

The campus encompasses a full range of university facilities – spaces for teaching and research, sports, dormitory, 24-hour library as well as energy and data centres – spanning over 1.1km². 

Working closely with KPF Architects, Arup provided total engineering design services to deliver this smart, sustainable and resilient campus. Our scope of services covers civil, geotechnics, structural, building services, façade, smart building technology system and sustainability design.

Project Summary

15% Façade performance better than required

1.1km²Site area

(c)Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Net-zero carbon ready

We have helped design a campus that is engineering provision-ready for carbon neutrality during its operations. 

The main outdoor collaboration areas and the buildings integrate energy-efficient MEP systems and passive and active sustainability design features that optimise comfort and interaction while minimising life-cycle cost.

A combined services tunnel houses both the chilled and hot water pipes so that the cooling and heating provision is centralised and more efficient. This is accompanied by the ‘energy centre’ which comprises a district cooling system and a campus-wide centralised hot water system that reclaims heat generated by the data centre, providing highly efficient solutions for the campus.

(c) Zhangchao

Water resilient

With increasing flood risk in the region, enhanced resilience has been built into the landscape, incorporating water feature designs and realising the sponge city concept.

We used a vertical design methodology – higher in the middle with lower surroundings – to suit the landscape, connect the open space and facilitate road runoff both inside and outside the campus, helping to alleviate flooding and enrich the ecosystem.

Enclosed by three canals, the campus also embraces its ambitious ‘zero water waste’ goal with rainwater and light greywater reuse to facilitate the greywater recycling research programme and minimise freshwater consumption for potable water use.

Smartly connected

The campus has implemented an integrated data platform to enable a holistic management and use of the campus through smart campus applications such as WiFi6 hyper connectivity, IoT applications, smart classrooms and smart building operations – all made possible by the Arup-designed information and communications technology infrastructure. With a focus on synergy, the platform facilitates operation, enhances user experience on campus, and supports its long-term sustainability objectives.  

The utilities distribution also provides data connection points and electricity supply for the smart monitoring system so that the campus can be turned into a ‘living lab’ where IoT research and development activities can be conducted in a safe environment. 

Robust on soft conditions

Due to functional requirements and architectural and landscape considerations, the buildings, located on soft ground conditions, vary in height and planar shape – some are high-rise buildings, without basements and exceeding China’s code limits, and some require attenuation of low vibration to varying degrees. 

Our geotechnical experts thoroughly studied and addressed a range of scenarios of compression, anti-uplift, horizontal resistance for foundations and a variety of combinations as well as differential settlement issues. As a result, the foundation design has fully satisfied the complex functions of the campus and the critical construction programme. 

Tailored while integrated

The buildings provide a vast spectrum of functions to serve multiple stakeholders, which posed a major challenge for our structural engineers.

This is best illustrated in the iconic eight-wing lab buildings in the central precinct – though the wings look very similar, different approaches were necessitated to tailor for different needs and future flexibility. We provided integrated solutions, from loading capability to structural flexibility, increased headroom, cost control and constructability. 

We intentionally raised the loading capacity of the labs in view of increasing future demands. In the concourse, a large mezzanine floor area was designed to be removable without structural reinforcement to transform into a double floor height space. 

Flexible and efficient

In the central precinct, our MEP design not only meets the current functional requirements of the labs but also provides flexibility for their future changes.  

As labs are energy-intensive with high ventilation and air-conditioning demands, we designed a range of systems to make them more sustainable. These include heat recovery air-conditioning, smart lighting responsive to natural light and people’s presence and a fresh air system for transitional seasons. 

Varying in harmony

The façade features vary from building to building in line with their functions. With Arup’s total design approach, the variety of materials – including freeform glass fibre reinforced concrete panels, glass, fire-rated façade, aluminium and steel – allowed for the expression of the architectural intent while maintaining a set of core principles: thermal performance, sustainability of the material choice and use, structural performance, constructability and local practice.

With exemplary smart, green and resilient design strategies and features, HKUST(GZ) establishes a world-leading standard in higher education for future generations and campuses across China and beyond.