By Arabella Youens
When the Norman Foster-designed HSBC building in Hong Kong was completed in December 1985, it was the most expensive building in the world ever to have been constructed.
While designed – much like earlier colonial-era structures on the island – with a trained feng shui geomancer, it did not anticipate the arrival, just a few years later, of the Bank of China building, with its knife-like edges, next door.
Shortly after it was built, the governor of Hong Kong died and there was a downturn in the city’s economy; it didn’t take long for fingers to be pointed at the new building. Feng shui masters were consulted and two cannon-shaped structures were mounted on the roof of HSBC’s building to dispel incoming negative energy from its neighbour.
Such is the power of the ancient practice of aligning buildings and objects, in order to attract good luck and ward off misfortune, that entire apartment buildings in Hong Kong have been built with holes through the middle. This is to allow dragons – traditional symbols of wealth and prosperity – to reach the harbour. Blocking the dragons’ path is thought to bring bad luck to residents.
While this may be a step too far for London developers, many are all too aware of its importance, and factor in a feng shui consultant if they wish to attract the lucrative Chinese market.