There’s one distinctive design feature of Hong Kong skyscrapers that arouses curiosity – why do some of them have gaping holes in the centre? The answer lies in the city’s fixation with the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui.
These holes, usually rectangular in shape, are classic examples of feng shui at work. Feng shui (literally, “wind” and “water”) is the ancient Chinese practice of aligning buildings and objects so that they are in harmony with nature, in order to attract good luck and ward off misfortune.
The holes are known as ‘dragon gates’ and according to feng shui, these holes allow dragons to fly from the mountains to the ocean each day, allowing positive energy flow through the building as a result.
Indeed, legend has it that dragons (which represent wisdom, courage and prosperity in Chinese culture) live in mountains. So in addition to must-have features like doors, windows and roofs, in Hong Kong you can’t forget the hole in the centre of the building that dragons can fly through – obviously.
Such holes, it is said, act as gateways for “spirit dragons” that reside in the hills behind the towers — blocking the dragons’ path to the water could bring misfortune to local residents.
It’s mostly buildings located near water that feature these intriguing ‘dragon gate’ holes. This enables the ‘dragons’ to have an unobstructed path to the water, thus not blocking the flow of good energy.
Some of the more well-known buildings in Hong Kong that feature these dragon gates include The Repulse Bay apartment block and the Bel-Air Residence in Hong Kong’s Cyberport area.
The Bel-Air Residence in Hong Kong’s Cyberport area where the luxury apartment buildings have several ‘dragon gate’ holes. | © Millevache / WikiCommons
Dragon gates are a clear sign of how much feng shui still plays a part in shaping the city. To this day, superstitious Hongkongers employ feng shui masters, often at great cost, to work with architects to ensure that their buildings have the best flow of ‘qi’ (energy flow).
Even in today’s world, where feng shui is often considered a form of superstition, most developers believe it’s better to be safe than sorry, so it’s the rare skyscraper that’s built without consulting a feng shui expert.