Harbour Kiosk

LAAB Architects
Hong Kong

Harbour Kiosk is a food kiosk located at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong. It is recognised as the first piece of kinetic public architecture in the city. Harbour Kiosk’s cinematic transformation activates the surrounding public space while paying tribute to the action movies the local film industry is famous for, which are celebrated in the adjacent Avenue of Stars.

Inspired by local market stalls, Harbour Kiosk automatically transforms its ‘gate’ into an ‘awning’ during the day and returns to its compact shape at night. The 49 robotic arms behind the profiled timber fins magically perform the cinematic transformation. The wave generator system also moves the timber fins in waves throughout the day to resonate with harbour waves, establishing an emotional connection between the people, the architecture, and the surrounding nature.

To enlarge the kiosk’s public services, LAAB merged the food kiosk with a large M&E machine room nearby, gaining a 17-metre-long wall space to accommodate public functions, including a counter table, a vending machine, drinking fountains, info panels and planters.

The facade features three strata of profiled timber slats, which not only conceal the machine-room doors but also accommodate different types of public functions inside the wavy surfaces. They also create a dynamic flow around the kiosk facade, which results in a subtle changing of profile. Tapering makes each member appear slender and less massive.

PEFC-certified red balau wood was chosen as the sustainable facade material because of its strength, hardness, lightness and cost-effectiveness. The architects, engineers and makers at LAAB developed four prototypes in two years to optimise the parametric design and kinetic system, and to ensure that the structure and design could withstand the typhoon season in Hong Kong.

The Cantonese phrase ziu hong maan caak refers to the local phenomenon (especially in the ‘old days’) of kiosks opening during the day and closing at night. The kinetic design of Harbour Kiosk demonstrates an innovative interpretation of this local culture.

Finishes: Amtrac, Builtmen.

Photography: LAAB Architects