Reminds me of the Fort Worth Water Gardens by Philip Johnson, this brutalist water park built 30 years ago looks as if it possessed a past glory not unlike the Diana Fountain by Gustafson. The different sections of the waterpark meander in a zigzag circular fashion, negotiating the changes in topography and we can only imagine the splashes of water must have been very interesting when it's still functioning. Planters and seatings are done in an integral fashion bordering the perimeter and without the obvious add-on purple barriers of a later date, people and kids could play and feel the passing of water by dipping their arms inside. This must have been a pleasant experience particularly in the summer Hong Kong heat. The series of hippo sculptures in the water, the pump room finished with ribbed concrete, and the carefully orchestrated dampers for the waterflow, all these together forms a simple yet powerful design which makes up one of the best anonymous designs in our city.
Fu Heng Estate. 2020.03.25
The zigzag fins slightly away from each other create a phenomenal transparency in this perimeter wall for a 3-storey residential development, probably built in the 50s or 60s. Views to the inside are only flashes of glimpse to the passerbys, you have to stop to look intently if you were to see what's beyond but that would be an awkward gesture on the part of the peeping soul. Aesthetically the changing shadows on this south-facing wall move with the passing sun, and I can only imagine the shadows cast on the other side shall be of a serene quality. A great example of how a design with simple construction marrying functions and aesthetics trumps the shallow propositions we see so much today making verticality itself an aesthetic without any content or substance.
Briar Avenue. 2020.03.01
The decades of marks and scratches on this wall can only be appreciated through the understanding of its impossibility to recreate. Layers of history were celebrated through years of wears and torns, one over another in its fantastic imperfections. The decay, incompleteness, and the crudeness orchestrate in full energies, inviting our curiosity to look, touch, and imagine. The bright red scooter backed against this piece of art is doing the wall its justice and brought it to life.
Yue Man Square. 2019.12.27
Always my favorite piece of architecture in Hong Kong, the architect of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre has done everything right: the abstract geometry that accentuates the quality of light and shadows, the interpenetrating volumes to create the ambiguity of outdoor and covered spaces, and the ripped tile facade that catches the changing natural light, all together pieces human experience into a cohesive and layered consciousness. A prime example of a piece of world class architecture that stands the test of time, we should be doubly proud and remain hopeful Hong Kong did have a glorious past in architectural design, despite the mediocre works that we see so much in the last some forty years.
Hong Kong Cultural Centre. 2019.10.25
Seldom is there a site so uncontaminated by developments yet so close to civilizations. The juxtapositions of the natural and the manmade is uncanny. There is no vehicular access to this village except a 1.6km hiking trail from Tung Chung, while the airport is right across the water. There are only sounds of the tree leaves blown by wind and the water from the creek, while covered by the engine sound from the planes every five minutes. There are barely 20-30 villagers living here while 80% of all the butterflies in Hong Kong reside here. The project to install something here clearly requires us to ponder the idea of an antithesis to settlements and developments.
#273 Sha Lo Wan. 2019.06.28
This dilapidated structure right beside the event centre we are working on has this lush green all around, particularly interesting about the trees growing with it over the years, resembling Ta Prohm at Angkor. The thought to restore and turn this into something useful seems inevitable to incorporate its history with nature. The roofless structure has no technical information structurally, particularly when a couple tree trunks have grown integrated with it supporting. Clearing out the bushes and sorting out the vegetation to uncover the small building visually seems to be the logical first steps and the eventual function seems secondary.
#272 Ma Wan. 2019.06.25
The glass block skylight in Kowloon Bay subway station is one of the best in town. There used to be two other just like this also in Kwun Tong and Ngau Tau Kok stations, together forming a series of three open platform stations in simple and rational aesthetics appropriate for their functions. Unfortunately, the updates of safety gates, aluminium cladding, and the replacement of the skylight with stupid design over the years made this Kowloon Bay station skylight the only surviving element from the late 70s aesthetics.
Kowloon Bay. 2019.06.23
Rain shadows from trees. It only happens between the narrow window of fresh dryness after rainfall and before the sun wipes out all the moisture.
Kwun Tong. 2019.06.01
Pick any line in the Beijing subway and you will come across all these poetic Chinese names. Most of them induce a sense of history related to the place, making you want to find out more about the layers of the past embedded in the locations. The pinyin of the names of course does not help in any way, but even if the translations are done based on the meaning of the words wouldn't help much either. Chinese characters have always been fascinating only to those who know.
Beijing. 2019.04.19
Started off as a solution to soil based agriculture, this abandoned hydroponic greenhouse is left with an unfortunate state after the owner couldn't make ends meet. This massive 20000sm structure was envisioned to participate in the enormous crusade to solve food hygiene, shortage, and energy problems, with highly controlled water systems and nutrients manipulations. However, the artificial process is of course the anti-thesis to nature, and when left alone everything malfunctions, whereas the natural process in the wild would otherwise be adaptive to new environments and survive. Believing in technology is one thing, persistent in it is another. How many artificial things in our lives are eternal? How shall we design such a structure when left with this issue beyond the immediate architecture?
#267 Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu. 2019.04.05
I am fascinated by contextual asymmetry. To start off with a symmetrical composition for something that doesn't require otherwise, the bus shelter's one-sided barrier railing, location of signages for bus lines, and the ad-hoc addition of the random chairs at the end of the queue all suggest right hand wheel, without even seeing the vehicles. Architecture looks the most pretty when it's naturally understandable by users, and this is a real piece of architecture without an architect.
Chuen Lung. 2019.03.03
The peculiar guitar hanging at the centre of this abandoned village house provokes a lot of imagination. Who set this up? For what purpose? Though maybe unintentional, the deliberate effort to place it at the middle away from the messy space creates a 3-dimensional reading of it against the backdrop while the viewers move around. It creates an interesting contrast to what we usually see a gallery with precious objects against a precious background. The usual discussion of whether a white background or an 'art' background is more suitable for gallery is invalid in this case with the 'invention' of this accidental gallery, which is much more interesting. It evokes a sense of history and the space itself embodies the layers of activities deposited in this particular location through time. The question is whether a space like this could be 'designed'.
Ma Wan village. 2019.02.14
This double loaded corridor designed about 60 years ago is a great way to allow daylight shining through to the densely packed slab block mass housing volumes. Lightwells are located every 10 metres or so allowing ventilation for the 10 storey building, at the same time creating the porches for all the entrances to the units through connecting bridges. This allows some degree of privacy as well as a sense of arrival back home. Architect Yuen Tat-cho's (阮達祖) architecture, however, was updated with a 'facelift' a few years ago, of which the volumetric clarity of the architecture was done away with patterned tileworks, wavy balustrades, coloured columns, and a 'sanitized' ceiling. The abstract qualities of the original building is lost because of all that visual upgrades.
Yue Kwong Chuen. 2019.02.10
The recent journey in search of social housing sites bring us to some wonderful places. Taken for granted by everyone passes by, the series of arched entrances flanking the street is a telltale sign that Hong Kong was a place full of wonderful designers and craftsmen. The well proportioned double-leaf doors to allow room for mailboxes echoed the shifted corridor axis which itself accommodates the rare trapezoidal staircase off to the side. The rippled arches in terrazzo together with the metalworks delivers a sense of class and style. It's unfortunate architectural heritages like this are subject to adverse possession and subsequent redevelopment by the dollar sign.
Pok Man Street. 2019.01.24
Continue to discover architectural gems in our city. Coming to RTHK for a radio interview, and confronted with this beautifully made architecture delighted me beyond words. The perfect proportions of the several different volumes, the carefully articulated fenestrations with metal barriers done in diamond shapes, the rugged elevations naturally turning into functional brise-soleil, and the entrance bridge created by depressing planes on both sides to allow the tree to adapt to the sectional spaces, all of these beautiful gestures make this one of the best pieces of architecture made in the city in my opinion. 1969 was a good year in architecture.
Broadcast Drive. 2019.01.14
The 200-meter long building is taking shape in the Philippines. What's interesting to work in very rural places in developing regions is that you have to be very flexible. While the building is going up, welders are unavailable and thus they started to build the walls before the steel roof could be closed off aligning the columns. In any case, the building will be built despite the sequence. And it will stand.
#248 Kalikid, the Philippines. 2018.12.20
The perfect cut from a plastic bucket made the JBL speaker works as an outdoor equipment just as well as a IP65 rating. The carefully made draft marks are still visible with the double curved corners made on the bent surface is nothing less than a superbly handmade artefact. As we like to say, the masters exist within the general public.
Tai Tam Tuk. 2018.12.09
Looking out from this 160-million view of a triplex apartment makes me wonder. The size of this property itself isn't all that big with this pricetag, but comparing with the currently most popular studio flats with the mere 128sf footprint the comparison shows the extremities of our living condition in this city of money. Everyone breathes the same air, dries in the same sun, and covered under the same sky. The premium to satisfy your senses is obviously exponential in terms of affordability. If we cannot make your flat bigger because of the physical limitations, focusing on tackling the senses may surprise the average person with the values it adds.
Homantin. 2018.10.30
How small can you go in terms of living space in Hong Kong is an imminent issue and we are all numb almost. Our attempt was not to squeeze the most functionality in a finite space, nor were we trying to invent a bogus feel-good factor to live in a tiny flat. As our good friend Philip Fung puts it, is to ‘survive with dignity’. For those otherwise would be likely homeless, the mini furniture/architecture is to induce a sense of order, an organized life, and a deserving degree of privacy in a communal setting for this particular group of people. Our journey has just begun and we are excited to see its subsequent evolution.
#232 Yau Ma Tei. 2018.09.27
Back to the same site over a decade later and a thousand kilometers away. How things gravitate transcends time and distance without you even knowing.
#257 Tagaytay, the Philippines. 2018.09.10
So many gems hidden in the city the regular folks won't even notice despite living in here for decades. To turn something like this into a public venue accessible to the public is a crusade for the city to be more transparent to its past, the good old times both in terms of architecture and public sentiment.
Cox's Road. 2018.08.22
The third time coming back to Shamshuipo to do works in the past two years. First time though for the merging of our continual effort on social housing works with this neighbourhood. The vacated flat void of any life still filled with sceneries of the quintessential Hong Kong life with some imaginations. How our city projects itself to foreigners and our own people has none of the layers and meaning embedded in the lives of the majority of the general public. Looking forward is inevitable and also practical, but what we can always try is to not to always start with a blank slate but allows things to sink in through time.
#232 Shamshuipo. 2018.08.09
Thank you Eric Tong and Edmond Wong's new set of cat furniture prototypes for the enjoyment of my five felines.
Studio Zhai. 2018.08.03
Built for the 1980's summer games, the Linna Hall is a huge beast. Step up a series of staircase to the top you will find nothing but the view to the harbour, only with another set of huge staircase leading you back down. Everything is grand and on axis, and a complete brutal disregard of the human conditions: no shelter, no handrail, endless staircases with no landings etc... so you are left with only yourself and nature. Nowhere can you hide from snow in the winter or the sun from the summer. In my case, I couldn't find a place to escape from the chilling wind as it brought the water off my nose. Amazingly it seems quite natural in this place - the biggest manmade structure I have ever experienced that is the closest to have built nothing for human, you are left with your own. It has now fallen into complete disrepair and a haven for graffiti artists. It's simultaneously one of the most amazing manmade structures yet completely ignoring human. Power comes from while you are at awe with nature and this structure provides exactly that.
Linnahall, Tallinn. 2014.11.24