This HK$290 million complex houses the British Council and the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, the largest British consulate in the world. Opened in 1996, just ahead of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong, the complex drew international attention as an expression of Britain’s continuing interest in Hong Kong following the handover. It serves as a regional base for cultural exchange, trade, and commerce.
Winner of an architectural competition in 1992, the Farrells design was the sole proposal to suggest a low-rise structure, in keeping with the verdant hillside setting, as opposed to a monolithic high-rise. At the time, the old Victoria Barracks was being redeveloped into the Hong Kong Park. Originally home to Colvin House, venue of the Sino-British deliberations on Hong Kong’s future, much of the consular site was undeveloped. In concentrating the mass of the new building along the road, in a linear arrangement, Farrells could retain several mature trees within a garden at the heart of the site. This garden, centred on a small waterfall and stream, is visually unified with the adjacent leafy hillside.
At the same time, the buildings shield the secluded garden from traffic noise while projecting a strong street presence. The disciplined, elegant architecture projects both approachability and decorum befitting a public building. The complex houses separate but connected quarters for the consulate, the British Council, UK Trade & Investment, as well as conference facilities and a diplomatic housing block.