Central, Hong Kong
Interior Design / Commercial
Completed, 2021
Peterson Group
Design Architect
Fit-Out Contractor
Li Ling Decoration Engineering Co. Ltd
A:I Project Team
Dennis Lee, Adela Paul, Anson Hau, Celia Lun

The project is an adaptive reuse of what used to be a popular lifestyle hotel in Lan Kwai Fong, at the heart of nightlife in Hong Kong’s Central district.

The owner had the foresight to shut down the hotel before the 2019 civil unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic - both phenomena plummeted Hong Kong's tourism and hospitality industries for more than three years. Majority of the 30-story tower was leased to a co-working office with fine dining restaurants occupying the lower floors. What was left are the public circulation spaces that used to be the hotel lobby, secondary entrance, and the public passageway that connects the higher Wyndham Street and the lower D'Aguilar Street.

The leftover spaces serve their purpose, bringing patrons from the two entrances to the restaurants and maintaining a passageway connecting the two street levels as statutorily required. However, the tenants demanded more; they aspired for a distinctive identity and a unique guest arrival experience. According to the owner, multiple big architectural firms turned down the project as it was deemed "too small" or "not worth the time."

Their reactions recall the classic question of whether architecture should be omnipresent in which every niches and corners of our living environment deserves “design”. Contrary to the big firms' beliefs, we saw a unique opportunity to find merits and relevance in the interstitial spaces, the residual public domain, and the narrow connecting routes.

Other than the hustling and bustling nightlife at the lower Lan Kwai Fong, the upper street of Wyndham Street leads to Hollywood Road - an art and culture street that was once lined with Chinese antiques, curiosities, and arts and crafts. Within a stone's throw away from the project site is Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts - the revamped low-rise complex designed by Herzog de Meuron and opened in 2018.

The street was also once occupied by newspaper printing houses including the defunct China Mail and Hong Kong Daily Press, and the South China Morning Post - currently the most popular local English paper in the city.

The concept of letterpress and typesetting became the medium to re-weave the historic context in art and culture, liquor and spirits, and dining and culinary. We highlighted three strategic locations at the Wyndham Street tall wall, the internal experiential corridor, and the D'Aguilar secondary lobby to narrate the story with backlit perforated panels. The passageway and corridors are more than circulation spaces, instead places where visitors are free to roam around, get to their destination, or slow down and decipher the contents.

We limited the choice of materials and allowed dark metal to fall back as the background, the warmly lit text and messages become the "entrée." With the original curved glass at the hotel entrance and the newly installed mirror panels, fluted glass, and glass wall along the corridor and secondary lobby, the backlit letters and text were reflected and refracted for an immersive experience. Such experience is exactly where we can validate, these spaces deserve architecture.