The Tower of Two Cities


  • Jack Jordan
  • Paris Gazzola
  • RMIT University


New technologies and full automation are changing the way things are made. Manufacturing can occur once again within urban centers since the industrial revolution killed metropolitan artisans.

Vertical ‘innovation district’ incorporates processes of designing, testing, manufacturing in a single building while its location offers instant consumers feedback.

Known as “The City of Contrast” we investigated Hong Kong; from its geography, varying typologies and wealth inequality. Beyond the ad-hoc, chaotic, unplanned stereotypes we uncovered multiple systems and networks that exist and we hoped to represent them critically to create a tower that fully represented all facets of Hong Kong society.

Key Features


The tower takes on dual identities, narrating a city that vacillates between two plots: the desire for maximum efficiency and a city seen through the eyes of an artist.

The core of the building is a production line; The machines are orchestrated in a sequence under computer control, assembling multiple components into a single product.

The design spaces are opportunistic, they takeover leftover space around the machines. The exuberant design of the pods is jarring in contrast to the vernacular core.


Through an unconventional modular system, the tower can adapts with rapid change.

The grid structure supporting the machines, allow them to be replaced with updated technology. New pods can be installed anywhere along the vine-like structure to suit changing needs; while old pods can be relocated as independent pavilions.

The building is both temporary and permanent, constantly changing with a unified identity. The inflated balloon-like designing process creates unique undefined spaces.

Much like Hong Kong laneways, the lack of specific purpose encourages ownership and creativity. It’s this occupation and re-occupation of spaces over time, even from day to night, which gives the city its rich layers of complexity.


The building derives from two binary opposite aesthetics and program. Vernacular and the exuberant; art and functionality; labour and luxury.

These contradictions offer a cruel commentary on the current wealth inequality in Hong Kong.

However, with labour intensive jobs now commandeered by robots, the pods hope to optimistically foster job equality and idealistic socialism.

The bulbus windows offer a rose-tinted magnifying glass looking optimistically outward to the changing urban fabric and inward to the manufacturing process.


With no human interaction required, the machines are compacted onto a grid structure and left exposed.

At a distance the machines seem to fuse together as a mass and the field of objects appear to compose a solid façade – at closer inspection the porosity of the mass becomes evident and the machines as individual elements can be identified.

The grotesque form of the pods squeezing and ooze out over the boundaries trying to gain any space possible.


The market space at the base of the building takes on a similar aesthetic as the pods, however the bulging windows become more concentrated and theatrical, like the markets itself.

The size of the windows accommodates people on a human scale, doubling as a shelf or seat. Each window frames a different moment and the theatrics of the market become part of the building fabric.

The market space allows for products to be tested and sold on a small scale, before going into mass production.

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