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Eureka’s Enlightened Moments

For Hong Kong architecture firm Eureka, design is a non-linear process in which ideas collide until ‘the moment’ occurs.



BY Janice Seow

February 4th, 2013


Eureka was founded in 2011 by Annette Chu and Raymond Leung, who had been collaborating on projects under ‘Chu Design’ since 2008. With Eureka they created a platform for the future inclusion of people who share similar ideas and values.

Eureka takes on a wide variety of projects – from dwellings to cycling hubs to the renovation of a columbarium. Common among its work is contextual investigation and a rich, team-based, additive approach to design.

Chu is also active in the charity enterprise Blue Eyes Entity, which was established with a few like-minded architects. The charity is focused on improvements to the homes of the elderly (including house painting workshops), and has also designed an opera stage for an NGO.

Eureka

24 Upper Station (facade) – conversion of tenement house to mixed use

Eureka

24 Upper Station (interior)

What is the meaning of your firm’s name? What, in your words, are eureka moments?

‘Eureka’ implies the enlightened moment after a long process of working that suddenly gives the work a lift, a jump. It relates to our belief that architecture is a complex synthesis of various parameters, which can often be conflicting.

Our Chinese name means ‘adding ideas’, or intentions, which are simultaneously captured in sketches, models and ‘scripts’ (with multiple authors). Our scripts slowly form ‘hidden codes’ that suggest, stimulate, remind or touch on individuals when they experience spaces.

For us, the design process operates in a non-linear manner, and there are moments in which certain intentions collide and form bigger ideas. The moment could come in any stage of the process.

Eureka

Spread by GUM – bicycle concept store and event space

It’s been written that you like to play with perception. Please elaborate.

We guess this element of ‘play’ will always appear in our projects! Both Spread by GUM and 24 Upper Station, we are interested in this idea of how individual elements combine and create a larger image or object.

At GUM, we wanted to create a flexible display wall. Borrowing the idea of the ‘pin art’ toy, the wall is constructed of 5,412 recycled paper tubes. Each can be adjusted to suit the products on display or the theme of the month.

At 24 Upper Station, each aluminium component on the facade echoes the bi-directional reading of punched letters on the folding metal gates in the neighbourhood. One’s perception towards the façade varies as he or she walks along.

Eureka

Eureka

Spread by GUM

Tell me about how you select and use materials.

We do this as a reaction to our ‘script’. They are part of the hidden codes embedded with messages, and hence it varies among projects. Sometimes they relate more directly to the end users (recycled paper for the green interests of GUM). At other times, they are used for effect. For example, the reflective silver and brown aluminium strips of 24 Upper Station aim to increase the intensity and variations of the colour red.

And in our proposal for the future Good Hope School, we wrap the space with plywood creating very fine vertical lines with subtle variable spacing between, occasionally inserting a fine line of copper at intervals. Students can sense the presence of wood, a natural material, by touch and smell.

Eureka

Design for Good Hope School – St Joseph’s Garden

Tell us more about the Good Hope School project.

To better understand the anatomy of the school, in the tangible and (more importantly) the intangible aspects, we’ve been conducting various workshops. We’re focusing on the social logic and established habits of the students, teachers and staff. The spot where they make cheering props, the granite bench where they spend their lunch hours… We not only want to enhance bonding through architectural and spatial design; we also want to reinforce a particular culture and collective identity.

Eureka

Design for Good Hope learning Centre – Silent Cocoons

Eureka

Good Hope – Puzzle Game Board

What are some of the characteristic contexts and experiences of Hong Kong? How do you address them in your work?

We are always interested in making people more aware of or reflective about their surroundings and behaviour in the city. Recently, we’ve been focusing on more varied and intimate experiences between individuals and environments, which are disappearing to a great extent through the city’s speedy redevelopment. We are now exploring issues such as darkness, messiness, dirtiness and weak points through our research project ‘SUPERLEMON’.

Eureka

Flask factory – existing exterior

Eureka

Flask factory – existing interiors

Tell us about your project for the conversion of a flask factory.

It’s a design proposal for the conversion of the building into a hotel. The key challenge is to think about what this hotel is about in a Hong Kong neighbourhood that will undergo drastic changes in the next 5-to-10 years.

The factory building and the story behind this local manufacturing brand are very interesting. We’re working with a business strategist/financial advisor and a brand consultant to develop a holistic presentation for the client.

Eureka

Design for the conversion of a flask factory – void

Eureka

Design for the conversion of a flask factory – room

What are some of the main issues faced by architects practicing in Hong Kong right now?

We will refer only to our experiences. Right now, we think architects in Hong Kong face a few new challenges. The city is well developed. Now many of us will do conversions or redevelopment works, sometimes with heritage considerations. This requires new knowledge and a new mindset.

Another challenge is to stay creative under the pressure of the very prescriptive local building regulations, short timeframes, and the quest for maximum return from high land costs. It becomes increasingly important to look for other modes of working, as well as collaborations to expand on project types. Sometimes, we invent projects.

Top image, from left to right: Gabriel Lee, Annette Chu, Angie Kan, Raymond Leung, Tommy Yeung and Wendy Hui.

Eureka
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