Pearl River Necklace Bridge, Hong Kong | NL Architects

NL Architects have designed a conceptual bridge for the Hong Kong border, featuring roads that would loop over each other to allow for the fact that traffic must drive on the left in Hong Kong but on the right in China.

Called ‘Pearl River Necklace’, the design would link artificial islands to form a bridge between Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau.

NL Architects designed the project for the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities International Design Ideas Competition.

Here’s some more information from the architects:

Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) International Ideas Competition 2010.


The idea to construct the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities as “a new Landmark to reflect Hong Kong as a vibrant global and metropolitan city” is an inspiring endeavor. However some of the key elements in the design turn out to be a fixed precondition: the shape of the landmass and more importantly the infrastructure itself are not part of the design task… a missed opportunity!

Starting point

The proposed Master Layout Plan is a technocratic solution: ingenious but not yet sublime

Plastic Surgery

Beauty comes from within. So if we want to turn the project into a true success we cannot just focus on superficial improvements. We should concentrate on the intrinsic qualities: we should work with the organs and intestines too…


We realize that a lot of effort has already been invested in the current configuration, but there seem to be unexplored capacities… Pearl River Necklace took the liberty to propose some radical adjustments in the principles of the Boundary Crossing Facilities. Not out of arrogance -we understand that we lack the ability at this moment to fully comprehend all the complexities of the task at hand- but out of a profound love for the inspiring potential embedded in the assignment. Maybe it is not too late to loose the shackles?

Traffic Gem

Pearl River Necklace is an attempt to untying the knot. It is a breakdown of the complexities of the Border Crossing Facilities into a ‘Necklace of Shining Pearls’. The objective is to bring to the surface the intrinsic beauty of the HKBCF and at the same time to reinforce the attractiveness of the projected Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

Rope and Knot Magic

Bisecting the enormous complexity of the Boundary Crossing facility in its core elements -Bus/Couch Passenger Clearance and Private Car and Cargo Checkpoints- allows for a simpler and perhaps more ‘meaningful’ organization. By taking the facility apart and remixing it in a new way a remarkably beautiful organism comes into being. What we need is a Houdini to perform some sort of Rope and Knot Magic.

Traffic Switch

Hong Kong has traffic on the left where China has traffic on the right. In principle this additional complexity has to be solved inside the Border Crossing Facilities. Within the proposed master layout plan this leads to fairly unarticulated intersections. It solves the switch, but does not ‘communicate’ it explicitly.

In fact the proposed switches mimic a regular interchange; they do not stage a special event. Can we turn the moment of swapping into an unforgettable spectacle? Can we enhance awareness of motorists while at the same time creating an unprecedented driving experience?


The Flipper is a device that is designed to ‘celebrate’ the traffic switch. The Flipper aspires to make tangible the change of the road system. It hopes to elegantly redirect vehicles in a smooth and safe way. The Flipper should be part of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. By introducing the Flipper close to the actual border the traffic system of the Border Crossing Facilities can become more simple…

Archipelago Logo

It is surprising that while being located next to one of the busiest airports in the world the proposed manmade island lacks ‘communicative capacity’. The new landmass doesn’t appear emblematic. With the emergence of palm islands, a tulip shaped island and a recently discovered heart shaped island, only to name a few, this seems to be a missed opportunity.


Pearl River Necklace introduces an Archipelago of Artificial Islands on the border of Hong Kong and China; a string of specifically formed islands that derive their form and their beauty from their function. Lucky Charm Bracelet.

Take me to the Bridge

In the proposed master layout plan the Border Crossing Facilities, paradoxically, are not located on the border… Wouldn’t it be more accurate to position the border on the border?


It is surprising that in the proposed Master Layout Plan the crucial moment of crossing the border is NOT perpendicular to the road you travel on. Through a mysterious detour the ‘border’ is aligned parallel with the main artery. This arrangement is blurring the clear schematic of the event. As a consequence the proposed plan does not perform as a true Logo. If the Border Crossing Facilities will be part of the ‘Bracelet’ the system can easily be rotated 90 degrees and as such rediscover its ‘natural’ position. And in the process shorten the road…