“EN-GAGE” Nature

Team Leader:
Chan Chun Yu Keith

Team Member:
Ip Hay Fung


The team explores the extent of intervention by architecture into nature, to enhance visitors’ experience yet minimize disturbance. The design hints the obvious feature – hexagonal volcanic columnar rocks – in a subtle and modest way that is coherent with nature, easy to construct, durable and low maintenance.

Entrance Feature
Formed by a series of ‘gabion columns’, the feature signifying the path leading to the viewing platform. Taking reference of the rock form, the gabion walls are composed of galvanized steel cages in hexagonal shapes. They are low-cost and efficiently fabricated off-site, and are light weight that can easily be transported and placed onto the site. They are then filled with weathered stone pieces that fell off from the volcanic rock pillars, which can be done locally by labour. Such method of construction significantly minimize the need for transporting building material.

The design features two important functions – information board display and seating for visitors. The information board is lit up by a light concealed in the hexagonal pillar that is made of salvaged wood and powered by solar energy. The gabion toe-wall serves as seats for visitors to take a brief rest before climbing up the steps or wait for transportations.

Viewing Platform

At the end of the hiking trail leads to the magnificent view of the hexagonal rocks of PoPinChau. To minimize the need of clearing existing vegetation, the platform is slightly raised and positioned mostly on the area of current open path and soil erosion. On the plateau, the platform is again supported by gabion construction, which is stable and durable, and its characteristic of water permeability prevents damage from rainfall. Studies show gabion structures would not be negatively influenced by soil movement (as compared to concrete footings), and would even be stronger over time as the vegetation slowly fills the gaps and helps bond the wall with nature.

The platform extends and cantilevers over the slope, providing an impressive view of the colossal stone pillars. The railing is again formed by modularized GMS frames with wire nets, minimizing visual impact and allowing maximum transparency towards the view. The modularized hexagonal platform frames are cladded with salvaged open-joint woodboards for water to seep through. Such natural material can weather well in nature and blend in with the colour and texture of the surrounding environment and vegetation.

A few steps following the natural terrain bring visitors down beneath the viewing platform, providing a shaded shelter for a short rest. In between, a hemp rope net connects the platform and the steps, creating a sloped hammock for people to rest, sit and lay down to enjoy the natural view.

Photo-taking Points

In between the entrance feature and the viewing platform, there are 3 photo-taking points. The team proposes a minimal design of a pylon that subtly indicates the spot for photo-taking, together with a simple bench made of salvaged wood for people to enjoy the view and take a break. The gabion base would slowly merge with the surrounding soil and vegetation and the whole design will slowly be integrated with nature over time.