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01 Aug 2022
Conservation, one tree at a time

When Swire Properties acquired part of the former British military garrison headquarters, Victoria Barracks, in 1986, the HK$1 billion purchase included an ancient banyan tree (ficus microcarpa), one of Hong Kong’s indigenous trees, which are characterised by their large girth, buttress roots and intricate aerial roots. Believed to have been planted around 1870, the tree was protected by a preservation order. So when Swire Properties announced at the end of the year that it planned to develop the site as a mixed-use complex that would include two office towers, three international hotels and serviced apartments above a multi-level shopping mall, it was clear the new Pacific Place would have to be built around the tree. 

Extraordinary lengths were taken to ensure it was preserved for future generations. These involved encasing its roots in a huge reinforced concrete cylinder that would be capable of withstanding both the elements and the tremendous pressure imposed by the weight of the surrounding buildings. Innovative construction methods were also brought into play, since multiple floors of retail and car parking space needed to be built beneath the tree. More than 35 years later, this beautiful tree continues to flourish at the heart of Pacific Place.