The Making of Hong Kong: From Vertical to Volumetric (Hardback) book cover

The Making of Hong Kong

From Vertical to Volumetric

By Barrie Shelton, Justyna Karakiewicz, Thomas Kvan

© 2011 – Routledge

184 pages | 215 B/W Illus.

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This book investigates what the history of Hong Kong’s urban development has to teach other cities as they face environmental challenges, social and demographic change and the need for new models of dense urbanism.

The authors describe how the high-rise intensity of Hong Kong came about; how the forest of towers are in fact vertical culs de sac; and how the city might become truly ‘volumetric’ with mixed activities through multiple levels and 3D movement networks incorporating ‘town cubes’ rather than town squares.

For more information, visit the authors' website:


"A much-needed succinct history of Hong Kong’s three-dimensional urban form… For designers working on projects in Hong Kong, The Making of Hong Kong may well be the one essential text." - Journal of Urban History

"..a well marshalled, sharp account of Hong Kong’s urban growth that poses worthy lines for future investigation." -Australian Design Review

"Engagingly written and organised in a highly legible manner, this book provides a vastly informative guide to the distinctive morphology of Hong Kong (covering a range of topics, from geological features to post-World War II economic shifts in the territory). Praise must be given to the plethora of images and diagrams used, which enrich the text and convey the authors’ familiarity and expertise with the Hong Kong urban environment. It is perhaps in the Addendum that the strength of this book comes through, with the authors offering a glimpse of how being aware of ‘volumetric’ principles in design can potentially contribute to rejuvenating old neighbourhoods (e.g. Mong Kok) or positing a new form of environmentally sensitive living (e.g. the Kwu Tung ‘Naturbia’) in Hong Kong. Authored from the perspective of urban planners and architects, this book will be of value to anyone who wishes to garner a better understanding of the compact qualities of Asian urbanity or is interested in the creative spatial innovations that can occur in island cities where land is a finite resource." - Sonia Lam-Knott, School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, Urban Island Studies

Table of Contents

1. A State of IntenCity 2. Precedents 3. Long, Low and Intense: From Possession Point to World War II 4. Massing and Rising: The Post-War Decades 5. Vertical and Volumetric: Post 1980 6. Podium and Tower 7. Emerging Volumetric: Components 8. Conclusion: Vertical and Volumetric Postscript: Advancing the Volumetric on Old District and New Territory Sites

About the Authors

Barrie Shelton is Associate Professor of Urban Design in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne

Justyna Karakiewicz is Associate Professor of Urban Design in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne

Thomas Kvan is Professor and Dean in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne

About the Series

Planning, History and Environment Series

This series offers a unique window on the creation of the modern environment. Designed for an international readership, the emphasis is on:

  • urban and regional planning
  • recent as well as longer-term history
  • what the past can tell us about the present
  • local as well as global and comparative topics

Within this framework the books address three themes:

  • regional, continental and comparative studies
  • planning histories of key cities
  • changing planning ideologies and policies


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / China
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography