Due to a really slow work month, me and my designers took one afternoon off to check out this year’s architectural pavilions on exhibit for the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture (UABB) in Hong Kong. For those of you who have lived in Hong Kong for a while, and are a bit confused, the “Bi-City” is a politically correct way to say Hong Kong and Shenzhen without having to worry which city to name first in the official title.
What makes visiting it this year so confusing is that this used to be called the “Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi- City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture”, but with the new name has broken up into two separate websites (which barely link to each other for some reason) with two separate graphic brandings / logos.
HK UABB BRANDING:
SHENZHEN UABB BRANDING:
I really wish they would just stick with one brand, one logo, one website, or at least have each a clear web link for information between the two. The HK site has a small tiny logo in the lower left hand side which links to the SZ programme (but the logo looks like sponsor…not actually part of the programme). The SZ site has no link back to Hong Kong. That said once you’ve gone past the initial confusion and realize it’s both the same biennale, you have until February 28 to spend half a day on the Hong Kong showing, and a full day on the Shenzhen showing.
I have yet to visit the Shenzhen arm of the exhibition, but at least me and my designers were able to spend a couple of hours checking out the Hong Kong exhibits which are “bi-harbour”, meaning the sites for the shows are both on the Kowloon side of the Harbour in Kwun Tong, and the Hong Kong side in North Point/Fortress Hill.
The Kwun Tong site is fascinating. For those visitors who only know Hong Kong via the glittering towers of Central or the hilly terrain of Lantau, Kwun Tong was once one of Hong Kong’s most highly industrial areas centered around the salt trade amongst other things.
The neighborhood is currently undergoing an kind of development renaissance since the government will be putting in place an MTR connection here, in part to serve the newly opened Kai Tak Cruise Terminal designed by Foster + Partners on a strip of site that was once the Kai Tak Airport, which is parallel to the Kwun Tong Promenade… the site of the UABB. Of course with any development, controversy always follows, and the UABB, a bi-annual event that seeks to question the urbanistic growth between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, was a target of activists who wanted to focus on the the Government’s pro-development schemes of the Kwun Tong neighborhood. Even some of the event organisers and partners were not allowed into the programme’s opening day of which Chief Executive, CY Leung was in attendance.
That said, here are some highlight photographs* from the Hong Kong exhibit that you should take note of:
+ EKEO (Energizing Kowloon East Office) Hong Kong Head Office Temporary Building / Designed by Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD)
According to their website, the EKEO office was set up in 2012 to "steer, supervise, oversee, and monitor the development of Kowloon East (Kwun Tong) with a view to facilitating its transformation into another premier CBD of Hong Kong." The building currently highlights a study of a smart transportation system, using a rechargeable scooter bike, which can make use of existing buildings and alleyways to help promote new grassroots commercial ventures.
The most interesting part about this is actually the temporary building which houses the exhibition, designed by the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD). The building was completed in 6 months, taking 3 months for design, and 3 months for construction. Housing 20 staff members, the building used recycled freight containers for a modular scheme, amongst utilisation of raw bamboo, low flow water technology, daylight sensors, recycled aggregates to help lower its carbon footprint overall.
+ House of Red . House of Blue / Designed by Kacey Wong
Kacey Wong’s introverted House of Red . House of Blue pavilion is an open air library cocooned in a croissant-like pavilion made of burnt wood and chopped down tree trunks. The books in the pavilion set amongst the seats and the trunks of trees, all focus on the subject on Hong Kong and China’s built environment and building culture.
+ Make Out City / Designed by Architectkidd, CHAT, Studiomake, Thingsmatter
Make Out City is an interesting formal work designed by Bangkok designers, Architectkidd, CHAT, Studiomake, and Thingsmatter. All the pieces for this lookout platform with two seats were fabricated by hand in Bangkok and shipped to Hong Kong. According to the designers, the work “illustrates the hybridized manner in which (they) like to fabricate things. It is a long, skinny lookout platform (which allows) visitors to climb out and gaze out onto the water.” Additionally they wanted to point out that the piece is made of four separate components; stair, structure, platform, and periscope. Which I suppose is why it takes four designers to design the whole thing?
+ Kwun Tong Promenade Stage 1 / Designed by Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD)
Originally published on 16.Jan.2014 via INDESIGNLIVE HONG KONG
Above, Herzog & de Meuron’s winning M+ Building Competition.
The M+ Museum, the main cultural anchor of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), is slated to open in 2017. However, prior to its launch, the museum and its curatorial teams have been busy spending the last several months giving form to its vision as a “museum of visual culture” via a continuous effort on the building of its works – local, regional, and global. Prior to the unveiling of the museum’s Architecture Collection at ArtisTree last week, the museum so far has had a jump start with the news of its Sigg Collection thanks to a sizeable donation of over 1,500 pieces by Swiss collector, Uli Sigg, the world’s largest universally recognised private collector of Chinese contemporary art from the 1970’s to present.
Below, Utopic constructs by Urbanus, Steven Holl, and MAD Architects.
Excluding the Sigg Collection, M+ has since recently acquired around 800 works to date, of which 80 per cent are by local artists and designers. A percentage of this is of course the Architecture collection, the first and only one of its kind in Asia, consisting of models and drawings of realised and unrealised architectural and urban projects as it relates to Hong Kong and China, including all shortlisted entries to the actual design of M+ itself. The show, part of the museum’s “Mobile M+” series of exhibitions allow Hong Kong’s citizens to engage with the museum’s curated programmes in the people’s turf (site specific shows all over town), and is certainly more than a peek of things to come. This allows curator, Aric Chen, and Assistant Curator, Shirley Surya, to present their vision of what it means to house a permanent collection of Architecture as it relates to visual culture and the Hong Kong context.
Above, M+ Building Design entries by Shigeru Ban and Renzo Piano, respectively.
As of now, the vision for the exhibition – excluding the M+ competition collection – is posited via five lenses: Place Making (Architecture within locality), Crossed Transfers (Architectural form studies beyond cultural borders), Urban Laboratory (manifested urban strategies as it relates to Hong Kong), Critical Futures (grand Utopic ideals), and Digital Reality (conceptualisation of space via Computer-aided Design). I’m pretty sure the narratives will continue to evolve even beyond the Museum’s actual opening, as new issues and frameworks present themselves from now until then. However as it is presented at this moment, the chapters work well at indexing a varied collection, defined by multiple mediums.
Above, brick work by Jiakun Architects.
Scale models of stand-alone buildings from designers Ai Wei Wei, Steven Holl, and William Lim of CL3 are placed adjacent to full sized brick works via Jiakun Architects’ “Rebirth Brick” project for the survivors of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Original courtyard drawings by modernist master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe are exhibited adjacent to studies of courtyards by Jackson Wong Chack Sang, who founded Wong & Ouyang. Of course models of completed typical Hong Kong residential towers by Rocco Design Architects and unbuilt dream towers by MAD are expected of architecture shows, but it’s the critical studies by the likes of artists such as MAP Office, anothermountainman, and Cao Fei, that really give us a full picture of the affect of Hong Kong and China’s building culture.
Below, Photographs by anothermountainman.
MAD Office’s Laurent Gutierrez and Valerie Portefaix question the grim practice of luxury tower design as subservient to the developer’s marketing message, usually as muddled euro-centric desires of the nouveau riche. Anothermountainman’s large-scale photographic prints reframe China and Taiwan’s uncompleted development dreams. Perhaps the best work that spoke to me in the whole collection is the one by artist Cao Fei, titled “The Birth of RMB City (2007)”, a video simulation of a virtual city comprising an amalgamation of architectures from China, Macau, and Hong Kong, built and destroyed within the online world of Second Life. I call it a critique of a building frenzy led by money; others would define it as an introspective work of the built environment.
Below, Cao Fei’s “RMB CIty” Video Installation and works by MAP Office.
According to curator Aric Chen, “collecting architecture requires both humility and judgment… (with) a constant awareness that what and how a museum collects can have an impact on architectural practice itself.” The impact of such a collection to the building industry will only be clear several years from now, however with so much being torn down and built in China and Hong Kong these days, a building archive such as this one is necessary if only to define an architectural identity before it disappears completely to yet another one of the region’s bullet speed urban redevelopment projects.
VISIT Mobile M+: The Museum and Architecture Collection will be held from 10 Jan – 9 Feb 2014. Opens daily from 10am – 8pm. ArtisTree, 1F Cornwall House, Taikoo Place, Island East, Hong Kong.
Two weeks ago, I decided to give myself a break and purchased a last minute ticket online to fly back for my annual family Christmas get together in Fort Worth, Texas (aka “The Lonestar State”)… my hometown.
As expected with most all-American (relatively) mid-sized towns like Fort Worth, everything is all spread out. In Texas we call this spread a “sprawl”, the opposite of Hong Kong density.
Texas is SPRAWLING.
Below and Above, The Kimbell Museum designed by Louis Khan.
For this brief non-Asia specific blog post, I wanted to present my photos of Texan “sprawl” as it relates to some of Fort Worth’s most unique cultural treasures, a group of world class museums which emerge lightly like an oasis on a sea of a very flat wintery beige landscape.
First off, I find the sheer existence of these museums, with their breathtaking and unique collections set… in the middle of Fort Worth’s vast flat grassland really oddly fascinating. How did these clusters of museums get built on this site… amongst the flatness, the occasional taco stand, the gas station, and some 1950’s post-war reconstruction government edifices, in the first place?!
Well thanks to Oil Money and a very philanthropic minded Oil Family (the Bass Family), all these museums stand here today. That said, I’m thankful to have had such an access to the Kimbell Art Museum’s rare permanent collections at such formative years. The Kimbell houses a highly curated and select collection of important works by old-world masters such as, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, El Greco, Velazquez, in an intimate building designed by none other than a master, Louis Kahn. It’s no surprise that I ended up following a creative career path with that kind of cultural influence in my own back yard.
As I recently walked in and around Kahn’s introverted yet timeless building most notable for its series of barrel-vaulted roofs, I was immediately transported back to all those moments when my relationship with art and architecture first bloomed right there in that very museum.
Above, the Kimbell Extension by Renzo Piano.
Other buildings I visited in the museum complex; the newly opened glass roof extension to The Kimbell, by Italian architect, Renzo Piano. Across the street, and about twice the size of the Kahn’s Kimbell, at two full stories, my other favorite; The Modern, by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, with a collection of contemporary masterpieces.
Below, The Modern by Tadao Ando.
Both buildings by Piano and Ando, with their repetitive roof forms, also sit lightly on a generally flat site just like The Kimbell. Both designs are strongly influenced by Khan’s Kimbell planning, the Kimbell being at the core of Fort Worth’s museum complex, tying three beautiful modern buildings together.
Lucky Forth Worth.
I just want to add that before I flew to Texas, I was graciously gifted one of only 74 limited edition travel satchels… a special red and blue colored Seventy Eight Percent ”Dimitri”, designed by an amazing person, Hong Kong based- Israeli designer, Shai Levy, a creative I covered on this blog several times before.
What makes the bag special is that it is Seventy Eight Percent’s first collaborative bag ever, this one with noted New York accessories designer, Eddie Borgo, a jewellery wunderkid who is known for his luxuriously sleek-yet-punk triangular and pyramid shaped motifs. This bag’s print of “interlocking triangles” is definitely a great example of that formal obsession with the triangle…. my favorite shape.
Below, Bag by Seventy Eight Percent x Eddie Borgo, Levi’s Jeans, Club Monaco Blazer, Watch by Daniel Wellington, shirt by J.Crew, Shoes by Ralph Lauren.
The “Dimitri” Eddie Borgo bag was a perfect travel companion to the States for me. I was able to fit everything in this stress-free and stylish lightweight carry-all… my SLR camera, sunglasses, passport, travel documents, wallet, iPad, keys, diary, and smartphone. With everything that I placed inside, it was still a surprisingly light carry.
Material of the leather is vegetable tanned (great for the environment), and the canvas a Japanese cotton.
The limited edition Eddie Borgo bag is available now at Lane Crawford Hong Kong (IFC, Harbour City, Times Square Causeway Bay) and Lane Crawford online and comes in Beige and Brown. Another collaborative line is with Brooklyn-based artist, Julia Chiang, available in all Blue and Beige and Green. A portion of the proceeds of the collaborative bags go to the Changing Lives Foundation, a foundation focused on reaching out to underprivileged youngsters in Hong Kong and Mainland.
And because it’s red and blue, it was THE perfect travel accessory for a trip to the U.S.of.A! It was good to be back, albeit briefly.
SHOP Seventy Eight Percent x Eddie Borgo . Seventy Eight Percent x Julia Chiang / WEAR Seventy Eight Percent / WEAR Eddie Borgo / FOLLOW Julia Chiang Artist / VISIT Kimbell Art Museum / VISIT The Modern Fort Worth / CHARITY INFORMATION Changing Lives Foundation in Hong Kong
Style Photography Courtesy of Travis Guba Los Angeles
As my final end-of-2013 wrap-up-post before the blog sees new stories for 2014, I’d like to revisit 10 of our most read post from last year. These posts are not necessarily my most favorite, or the ones i’m in love with (heck the ones I loved the most turned out to be the least read…so who knows).
Anyway what this list successfully shows is a skimmed overview of the trends and events that got people interested on Wanderlister.com. Highlights include Monocle Magazine’s big Hong Kong and APAC tour, Art Basel’s inaugural Asian branded fair, the emergence of proudly made Hong Kong labels like PYE, the popularity of public inflatable Art, and the turn to Southeast Asian and Filipino cuisine in the city.
Anyway, 2013 was so so cool in so many ways, hope 2014 is even better!
13 FEB 25 - The Monocle Shop in Hong Kong recently entertained friends and family of Monocle Magazine via a block party, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Tyler Brule, Advertising Director, Anders Braso, and Hong Kong’s newest bureau chief,Aisha Speirs, as part of their big APAC push.
#09 / EVENT / OFF-ART BASEL HONG KONG 2013
13 MAY 19 - Art Basel Hong Kong (ABHK) arrives for the first time in our great city with tons of buzz. For those who are new to all this, all you need to know that this art fair in Hong Kong is the 3rd largest art fair in the world, third only to Art Basel in Basel and Art Basel in Miami. Before we get further into the fair, so much is happening around the city with “OFF-Basel” (Official and Unofficial) Activities in the build up to opening night.
#08 / DINING & LEISURE / SCARLETT AND MAGGIE CHOO’S
13 MAY 04 - Bangkok is quite good with super “Designed” Wallpaper*-esque nightlife concepts and offerings and has been since the emergence of “IT” joints like Bed Supper Club, FACE Bar, and Fallabella in the last decade. While those bars are a memory of what they once were, making waves as of late are two new hotspots located high above the city with, SCARLETT, perfect for those wanting a sunset with a scene, and a new “speakeasy” very low underground, at the new/old Maggie Choo’s, for those wanting a bit of naughty privacy.
I didn’t get to see and visit much of BODW Business of Design Week 2013 this year, however, the one talk I DID get to see was the one I wanted to see from when I first heard about the speaker lineup, and that was the talk of architect, Sou Fujimoto. Fujimoto, who visited us in Hong Kong from Tokyo, is currently riding high off of his latest work, the much celebrated pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in London’s historically iconic Kensington Gardens. Not only did I get to listen to this designer’s very engaging talk, I also had a chance to meet with him one-on-one (really briefly) before he went on stage. He was nice, friendly, and a generally pleasant guy to have a chat with, and between meeting him personally and listening to his talk, this relatively young Architect (born in 1971) who Toyo Ito just named is Japan’s “next big thing” at his press conference at BODW, was in rare position, even amongst other architects… to play.
The issues he was most concerned about, as stated in his visual presentation, was to play in a state in which a project exists; “between architecture and landscape”, “between furniture and architecture”, “between inside and outside”, and of course as in the case of the Serpentine Pavilion… “Between nature and architecture”.
Ahh the beauty of ambiguity which the best architects find themselves choreographed in.
As a corporate architect I sat watching the talk in complete envy of Fujimoto’s position and creative power. But like all “Starchitects”, Fujimoto hasn’t rushed his career to build the biggest or wildest things, but instead has taken the time to pick and choose projects which enabled him to articulate the obsession with “in-betweeness” as an opportunity to play at white forms in repetition.
An “MC Escher”esque cafe in Taiwan with stairs over stairs over stairs… (I’ll take the ground floor table please.)
A building made of arches, over arches, over arches, for a competition in the Middle East…
The stacked landscape of ramps over ramps for an extension building to the Kunsthalle Bielefeld.
This crazy invisible house in Japan made with transparent boxes stacked over other boxes…
And other houses he designed which pretty much rely on stacking same forms over same forms…
And check out his house-as-a-column design… the form of the house being defined by floor slabs stacked on other floor slabs… an idea of the programmable column which was derived from his study of the Sendai Mediatheque project by his idol, Toyo Ito… funny that.
That said. It’s really not surprising that his Serpentine Pavilion from this summer, looks like this.
Which I believe, may be the best offering yet for Serpentine Gallery… and between any gallery and architect for that matter! Fujimoto’s ambiguous position about architecture, in turn makes him naturally ambiguous to form making. In the age where most architects we know are just following the Chinese Yuan wherever it leads them (usually to an “iconic” form built cheaply)… its nice to know that there are still architects out there who are unafraid to step back and let the process of form-making take the lead. The Serpentine Pavilion is a product of process of a career based on the study of repetitive language, and questioning the validity of pre-conceived formal expressions. The grid in his work is a natural bi-product of his being Japanese (hello Ando and his Tatami geometries!) and the cheekiness is the the natural assimilation of Dutch upside down pragmaticism, which in a way has affected how a certain generation of architects have begun to tackle their projects post Delirious, New York by Rem Koolhaas.
Anyway i’m going on way too long on this post. But the point is, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and listening to Sou Fujimoto, and I thank BODW Business of Design Week for the opportunity. He lives on his “cloud” and so do most successful architects, and of course they need to be on that cloud or else why would you pay them? To regurgitate what already exists?
Actually… most Developers do… but that’s besides the point. Fujimoto is clearly a visionary and a design vanguard that the profession needs at this stage. Let Zaha build her stadiums, and while she does that, Fujimoto can build his pavilions and toilets in the garden… and teach all of us new things in the process.
Who knew that there are still new and fresh ideas out there? Especially in the realm of Architecture.
Chatting with Toyo Ito… where he said that “Sou Fujimoto is the next big thing in Japanese Architecture.”
*FYI Clicking on some of the photos in this post will take you to the original source page.
I stumbled upon these two renderings of the CPS Central Police Station the other day on the ARUP website. What’s notable about these images is that 1) they’re not cloudy and abstract like the previous official images of the project and 2) they show the building massing performance OUTSIDE the CPS property and gives us a good example of how the iconic building may be perceived from afar. What I also appreciate about the building is that the facade and skin system has been refined and it looks quite interesting. I do have to say that its Swiss designers, Herzog & de Meuron’s earlier works show a real interest not only in tactile materiality in their facade systems, but also in the color, hue, and texture, their materials create as a way to contextualize the object within the existing environment. Earlier works play with glass, stone, and use of rougher copper or CORten hues. The latest two projects for Hong Kong, the CPS and now M+, really do play it safe with its use of white. Even the first scheme for CPS (the bamboo scaffolding homage) was green steel. Is this a choice by the architects to play it safe as a result of Hong Kong’s extremely prickly and conservative building approvals environment? Who knows. Hope to get more information about the Jockey Club’s CPS project in the next few months… and who the possible tenant running the heritage & contemporary art museum will be.