The new West Kowloon train station is an architectural marvel that brings bullet trains from mainland China to the heart of Hong Kong's special administrative region. The new transit hub will cut rail time from Guangzhou to Hong Kong down to 47 minutes.
However, many in Hong Kong see it as an aggressive attempt by Beijing to insert their authority into the territory's seperate legal framework known as 'one country, two systems'.
Hong Kong has given over a million square feet of the station to mainland Chinese authorities, raising fears for the autonomy of the former British colony. It's been called a "Trojan Train" by one commentator; allowing mainland immigration officers to enforce Chinese law on Hong Kong soil for the first time.
Nobody can dispute the architectural significance of the project, which has won more than a dozen prestigeous awards before even opening. The firm Aedas is know for their 'future city' style projects around the world, and is also involved in the new bridge connecting Macau with the mainland.
"It will foster commercial and cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and mainland cities and enhance Hong Kong's status as a transport hub," said Frank Chan, the secretary for transport and housing. The high-speed rail link will connect 44 mainland locations, including Beijing, directly to Hong Kong.
"I think its quite striking, formally. It's clearly an effort to capture the dynamism of the high-speed train. There's a tautness to the overall form that captures its proximity to the water, and the way it will abruptly deposit travelers on the harbor's edge," said Cole Roskam, an associate professor of architectural theory and history at the University of Hong Kong.
Interior spaces like lounges for departure and arrival, platforms for 15 tracks, customs and immigration facilities, have been designed with an open plan and views of the city's skyline. The station has a grass covered roof that bends toward Victoria Harbour and works as a public friendly park space. The design has some similarities with other modern stations in China. These transport hubs are meant to impress and display the country's progress.
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