JJ. Acuna pays a visit to Tuve and discovers how the newly opened boutique hotel in bustling Hong Kong city makes a statement by playing on subtlety.
If one were to visit Hong Kong for a weekend, the first thing that comes to mind is an urban vacation defined by density, traffic, subway rides, shopping malls, and endless crowds. The usual hot spots like Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Lan Kwai Fong have become obvious go-to places for these getaways. However the unveiling of a unique boutique hotel just this month, called, TUVE, in an unexpected foodie district, Tin Hau, aims to change this cliché Hong Kong travel paradigm.
A five-minute walk from Causeway Bay via Victoria Park, Tin Hau is considered a local’s nightspot defined by a wide selection of dining offerings lining the axis of Electric Road and Tsing Fung Street. Not so much a draw for foreigners, but if one were to end up in a Tin Hau restaurant, chances are they were led there by an insider. It’s exactly within this unexpected context in which TUVE exists.
Designed by Hong Kong studio, Design Systems LTD., TUVE’s poetic formation is somewhat similar to that of a solid rock in a rushing stream. This nondescript hotel’s negative presence, clad in black metal and glass on the outside, sits recessed back from the building line, with no signage or articulation. Initially inspired by the images of photographer Kim Høltermand’s Lake Tuve photo series, the loud city outside is drowned out almost immediately upon stepping into TUVE’s mysteriously arched and iconic alcove.
“TUVE is a unique property in the way that it underlines minimalist and timeless design sensibilities,” says Pauline Tsang, Managing Director of the hotel. “Its hidden beauty, which is natural and implicit, provides a journey for travellers to a different space.”
The reliance on raw materials, from the arch portico’s concrete texture, the front door’s vertical metal bars, the lift interior’s grainy timbers, right up to the front lobby’s dark and subdued space with the only light source reflecting off a giant sheet of oxidised brass and speckled through various glass crevices carved within the reception’s guided feature backdrop… it is clear the hotel aims for authenticity of material without the fakery of artificial colours not already inherent in nature.
Two years in the making, the architects were tasked to create a project of ‘rarity’, and one that would embrace the refined use of materials as a way to convey ‘luxury’. The designers and owners agreed to refrain from the use of exotic materials, fabrics, and designer furniture, but instead utilise simple materials such as concrete, galvanised, steel, brass, oak, and wired glass, plus lighting, as a way to highlight craftsmanship.
Some things to look out for when staying in this 66-room project: gold specks hand painted by the hotel’s owner within concrete crevices in 40 rooms, and special “Wunderboxes”, a different one for each of the six room types which unravel to reveal the bar, a desk, magazines, and a task chair, but via different means of unfolding. Because the hotel is based on the aesthetics of Lake Tuve, natural grains in timber and stone are displayed strongly in public areas as a way to reflect ‘fluidity’. Other recurring themes in the hotel is its repetitive use of vertical stripes, via the application of metal bars which recess and protrude, and via the formwork of the raw concretes in the public spaces and in some of the bedrooms. These vertical marks are further accentuated by linear recessed floor lighting, which exists from the hotel’s entrance right up to each bedroom.
For the design-junky, every inch and surface of TUVE begs to be touched, if only to appreciate a kind of re-discovery of the natural aesthetic. This method of design is really a rare characteristic in Hong Kong projects these days, especially where the mentality of ‘less-is-more’ is further drowned out by the city’s glitzy neons and glamorous crystals found inside and out.
Design Systems Ltd