The Exclusionary Nature of Hyperdensity Hong Kong’s Volumetric Urban Compaction as Liveability Model for Exclusionary Interiorized Settings

Gerhard Bruyns, Henry Endemann, Veronica Ching Lee, Darren Nel

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


East Asian urbanization is characterized by complex processes of extensive densifi cation. Fuelled by rapid economic growth, Asian cities’ size, scale, and physical dimensions remain incomparable to any Western sett ing. During the past thirty years alone, various concepts have att empted to defi ne hyperdensity, layering, and intensity as core principles of Asian urban development. Although these concepts explore the physical properties of development, few examples provide insights into the behavioural and social dimensions of such complex morphological sett ings. This paper examines the eff ects of urban compaction and volumetric urbanism on liveability in East Asian cities. Hong Kong exemplifi es an extreme scale and rate of densifi cation. Podium developments – commercial plinths elevated above street level that connect large residential towers to commercial complexes – are one of the city’s most common development types. The hypothesis is that the combination of diff erent types of podium development results in the interiorization of the urban realm, which compresses public services, social engagements, and behavioural conditions into diverse privatized and fragmented ‘public interiors’. To explore these conditions, this paper fi rst outlines the conceptual premise of reading urban sett ings through the lens of volumetric urban compaction. This framework combines urban compaction and volumetric urbanism. Second, the paper discusses theories that deal with the links between spatial sett ings and behavioural traits. Privatization is of particular interest here, including those processes in which the private and the public become interchangeable conditions or where the temporary occupation of functions occurs. The diff erent concepts – volumetric urban compaction and interiority – are studied within Olympian City, a podium development in Kowloon (Hong Kong). Through fi eldwork, the case is investigated in terms of the elements that make up Olympian City’s spatial confi guration and how diff erent groups use space at diff erent times of the day and week. The case study shows that Hong Kong’s development follows an economically driven model of volumetric urban compaction; it supports a larger privatization strategy that depends on the interiorization of the city to the extent that makes the overall structure highly exclusive, static, and controlled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-414
Number of pages22
JournalBuilt Environment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Density
  • Hong kong
  • Liveability
  • Urban interiors
  • Volumetric urban morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'The Exclusionary Nature of Hyperdensity Hong Kong’s Volumetric Urban Compaction as Liveability Model for Exclusionary Interiorized Settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this