With the year soon ending, we’ve been reflecting on the architecture industry fresh from MIPIM Asia, Business of Design Week and the deluge of events that fill our calendars towards the end of the year. Likewise, we also put our heads together to offer some thoughts on what we are expecting in 2016 and thereafter.
A trend we are seeing more of, and one that we think will continue to gain momentum in 2016, is for more ‘special moments’ in large urban projects. We’re already working with clients to treat spaces like seamless art experiences, incorporating voluptuous parks and works of art, and approaching renovations and restorations with an eye for detail.
This year, we’ve worked with artists, landscape architects, other boutique firms to incorporate sculpture, rooftop gardens floating above shopping streets. Part of a relentless quest for good design to connect people, draw them in, inspire them and ultimately end up creating destinations for locals and tourists. We see a healthy obsession with people-oriented developments and we appreciate this.
As we head towards our second anniversary, we remain focused on the founding principle of integrating people and places through living architecture and design. The line between art and architecture has always been a blurred one; although it’s clear that architecture needs to be functional, where art can exhibit whimsy. However, like art, a truly good building is one that can tell a story, or evoke an emotion.
Look at Turner Prize winning Granby Four Streets, Toxteth by UK architecture cooperative, Assemble. Rather than replacing an abandoned Liverpool housing development with modern white boxes, their project takes a finely tuned house-by-house approach, making the most of what is already there and celebrating the generous scale of the Victorian buildings. The proposals are full of inventive hand-crafted touches from ceramic door handles handmade by local artisans to community gardens and double-height spaces for art and life to flourish.
Our aim as architects is to co-create beautiful, convivial places to live, work and spend time. As John Ruskin wrote, “there is no wealth but life…that country is the richest which nourishes the greatest numbers of noble and happy human beings.”
We are currently contributing to the Hong Kong edition of the 2015 Bi-city Biennale of UrbanismArchitecture (the Biennale), which welcomes all Hong Kongers to explore their vision of the city in which they live. Taking place from December to February in Kowloon Park and the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, the Biennale is a curated showcase of inspirational works by leading international and local creatives and design professionals.
This year’s theme of ‘Visions 2050: Lifestyle and the Smart City’ focuses on the future of Hong Kong and the intrinsic relationship between how we conduct our daily life and the physical environment around us. The vision of the younger generation is the key for creating the city of the future. Our contribution looks at Victoria Harbour in 2050, and ways to achieve a more balanced relationship with nature, through design.
We are also exhibiting our imagining of a bus stop of the future at an exhibition by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects this month. Bus stops can embody a rich seam of experimental architecture, especially thinking about how technology will transform them for the next generation. They are shelter, refuge, essential in everyday life.
The value of these special moments is not as intangible as it might at first seem. What started as an effort to create more pleasant spaces for people has an economic benefit. Look at the much-talked about High Line in New York, which has created US$2.2billion in economic activity for an underused area of Manhattan.
We couldn’t agree more with Ruskin, we need to design with both people and profit in mind, and create authentic, inspiring places for people.