It was the client's intention to set up a location that can demonstrate how discarded, salvaged materials can be given a new form of life, becoming useful again and playing a different role. The brief was to create a number of standalone studios, allowing designers to have a space to test out, disassemble and remodel materials that are available. There shall be available a flexible space where workshop for the public can be organized, or for events to be held.
If product design can make use of the upcycling concept, so can interior design. The design team decided where possible, use only materials that are unwanted, discarded, or considered useless, or those which can be recycled in the future.
To allow for a fair degree of privacy, individual studios were created by first erecting a steel frame backbone on site, assembled through mechanical fixing. The materials selected for the infill partitions were mainly salvaged materials: timber pallets, wooden red wine boxes, recycled paper egg cartons.
Less damaged timber pallets were selected for use in its original form. They were first sand papered to remove splinters and then coated with a protective silicone based coating. Those that were too damaged to use as a whole would be disassembled, and trimmed into sizes, combined with custom made steel angles, would form open shelves that can be hung onto the pallet walls.
The wooden wine boxes were treated in a similar fashion, and they perform well as display shelves for eventual products when facing outside the studio, and storage units/ bookshelves when facing inward.
The egg cartons, since they would disintegrate if exposed to high humidity, were painted with a protective coating that would hold them in place, would serve well as a sound absorption material, and were used as the main material for the sliding doors into each studio.
As for the lighting, the premises were mainly lit up with the use of dimmable T-5 light batons for its efficiency, but at areas where glare from the lighting is to be minimized, particularly inside the studio areas, a custom made light diffusers were made out from discarded plastic magazine rack. When disassembled, the perforations on the panels allow for controlled penetration of light, and the form of these panels allow for a flexible combination of shapes to suit the need. Another custom made item was the use of empty glass bottles, which were inserted with flexible LED light strip, grouped together on a suspended custom steel frame to produce an upcycled chandelier.
Due to the operating nature of the client, we have received also a large number of disused steel horseshoes, which were used as handles for all the doors in the premises, as well as in forming a set of custom design light feature at the entrance.
The result demonstrated that many otherwise considered useless materials can in fact be reused in meaningful ways, a precedent to illustrate how to do more with less.
ST. JAMES SETTLEMENT
Jockey Club Upcycling Centre
85 Stone Nullah Lane, WanChai
Hong Kong Children's Choir
Lime Stardom, 1 Larch Street, Tai Kok Tsui
Inspired by the clarity, purity and freshness of the children's voice, the design team derived and followed the concept of Rhythmic Nature.
For a Centre to service children aged 3 to 15 in developing their choral talents, the challenge of the project rested on creating an inspiring, imaginative space that needs to function well.
Good acoustics performance of contained space was one of the priorities which conventionally resulting a strictly enclosed environment. Instead of compromising with the containment, strategies were applied to overcome the innate restriction without degrading the sound performance: controlled amount of natural light was allowed to travel within the contained spaces with attentively constructed openings; interior was sculpted materially and tectonically to react with the natural and artificial lighting. Along the enclosed corridor, colored door portals and lighting were carved out from the wall which created the sensation of slender path within glacier, echoing the pristine melodic voices of the children.
A wide range of rooms were made for diverse uses, and each was given a special combination of materials and color to create a subtle character to avoid confusion to the young children. All units were equipped with sufficient utilities with seamless and concealed treatment to avoid injuries to children and damages to hardware.
Materials & Performance
With deep understanding of client's needs, the materials employed from head to toe were to deliver the sense for imagination and natural intimacy for the children to immerse in. The use of timber and grain as dominant textures and carefully studied light diffusion from the gentle ceiling curvature, were to simulate the experience of natural elements and phenomenon: the dawn, cloud, shadow and glacier. The atmosphere was filled with stimulation of creative imagination.
Materials were applied with regards to the objects' unique quality, and specifically in different locations to echo with both aesthetics and function. The application of acoustics materials for performance hall and rehearsal rooms are tested by professional laboratory with unique pattern for optimal performance. In conversation with artificial and natural light, rich and textured materials like micro-fibre panels and venetian lime-based plaster are being experimentally applied throughout the premises to construct an imaginative landscape.
Hong Kong Art Centre, 2 Habour Road, WanChai
The cinema has been in operation since the 70s, and was fitted with minimal provisions but for maximum capacity. Other than requiring an essential cosmetic facelift, there were fundamental performance inadequacies like acoustic performance, basic legrooms, viewing obstructions that needs to be resolved.
With a limited budget, priorities has to be set, and it was decided that in order to achieve a more comfortable setting, the number of seats is to be drastically reduced. Instead of demolishing the entire cinema to realign the seating arrangements, the existing levels were carefully studied, and demolition was minimally done with the use of lightweight concrete to rearrange the various levels to achieve the optimal arrangement. The original seats were not compatible with the new layout, but due to its history and quality, were sold to generous patrons who would like keep a bit of the history. Waste was therefore minimized.
Completed with the state of the art new sound system and 3D projection capability, the premises must perform with the careful consideration of materials and finishes. The most notable addition to the premises was the installation of the new acoustic panels on walls.
Waste was minimized by designing the fabrication procedure close to the actual material size and limits considerations. The selection of the acoustics materials which occupied the majority of materials quantity in the project was an eco-friendly panel made of natural components: wood, water and magnesite, which has the seals of approval from various institutes including the Association for Environmentally Friendly Building Materials and the Building and Environment Institute in Germany. The selection allows for easy and efficient fabrication on-site by even the more primitive ways that the local labor force were capable of, resulting in minimum carbon footprint.
A good quality space does not equal to an expensive price tag, particularly when the economy is constantly riding on a roller coaster path in the dark, not knowing when the next turn in direction, or a free fall drop is going to happen. We, as members to the society and the world, have the duty to use carefully, and intelligently the resources we have available, whether they are the materials that will be used for finishing the walls, the fittings that used to be in the premises, or the labors, who have been employed to carry out the works. Choice of material were carefully selected so that customization, based on good performance materials and not necessarily the most expensive, can be applied to create a unique signature that is consistent with the client's branding.
In this project, we have demonstrated how to REDUCE waste by demolishing only what is necessary, REUSE the original seating in other places, to provide opportunities to RECYCLE some of the materials used for acoustic purposes via the selection of products from natural ingredients, and to make best use of the local labor force by reducing the complexity of the fabrication works, with no compromise on the quality of design.