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Hong Kong Design Institute
March 1st, 2005

Location: Hong Kong, China
Open Competition

Principal in charge: Rodolphe el-Khoury

Team: Lingchen Liu, Chenglong Wang

The Hong Kong Design Institute was designed to integrate with the city’s public realm. The section thus allows for the ground plane to extend uninterrupted on top of the studios, to seamlessly link the different sides of the site. The major public amenities, such as the theatre, the library and the swimming pool sit above the ground plane for optimal visibility and accessibility.

The building is thus conceived as a new ground, a field that is readily accessible from the street and that maximizes areas and opportunities of interface between the institution and the public. In its section and massing, it is designed and conceived as a landscape rather than a discrete object-building. A continuous but multi-functional surface serves to reinforce the landscape quality.

The studio space consists of glazed tubes twenty meters deep, encased within a structural steel meshwork. In a variety of gradual deformations, they ‘stem’ from the cellular structures housing the departmental facilities beneath and ‘sprout’ the highly differentiated objects above that contain the public amenities.

All volumes are wrapped in a consistent envelope that is both cladding and structure. The envelope is a surface-active structure that is designed with a capacity for continuous differentiation, so as to accommodate for multiple load-bearing and bracing scenarios as well as provide a variety of cladding solutions to suit different uses.

The complex derives its distinct identity from a complex icon: the new public ground and the collection of extraordinary objects—a still-life of sorts—on top. The multi-faced icon is meant to capture the variety of design cultures that find a common ground in this institution.

The consistency of the envelope furthermore unifies the otherwise heterogeneous collection of structures. The resulting monolithic character is ambiguous: at times it suggests a solid homogeneity throughout. More often it betrays evidence of a complex and vibrant world behind the veiling surface.