This four-storey 1950s Hong Kong tenement building, located on Central’s Peel Street, has undergone a complete transformation by local architecture firm, Eureka Studio
“We recall our first visit to the old building,” says Annette Chu and Gigi Chiu of Eureka Studio. “There was a 50-year-old Chinese noodle store on the left-hand side of the entrance, and we overheard the owner chatting with his regulars. Entering the gate, we walked up the internal staircase, and found a handwritten flat number "No.15 fourth floor" in Chinese on the wall in front of its door. This propelled us to retain some features of the building, and to incorporate the element of traditional handcraft typography into our design.”
There are seven units in total in the building, with six studio flats and one two-bedroom flat. Outside each unit is a thin black steel frame for umbrellas with the flat number plate and an entrance light. The design, Gigi and Annette commented, is the interplay between existing and new, rough and craft elements. The exterior of the building is painted completely black to contrast the vibrant street life surrounding the space.
Mounted next to the entrance gate is a metal plate telling a brief history of Peel Street. On both sides are some letter boxes with letters on zinc stencil. The existing concrete stairs with ceramic tiles nosing are kept, and the damaged part is painted with a number using a Mr. Ho's stencil during repair, indicating the step number hinting one's whereabouts.
The exterior of the building is painted completely black to contrast the vibrant street life surrounding the space
Internally, renders of the old concrete columns and beams have been removed and remain exposed. The design introduces clean lines with a limited palette of materials. The two different layouts call for two different settings for the studios. One uses a custom-made sliding timber screen adding a warm element to the concrete and the light grey epoxy flooring, while the other uses a string curtain resulting in a more dramatic atmosphere.
Thin steel black frames have been used throughout the interiors, while natural timber veneered panels are used as highlights. The bathrooms are kept in a grey monotone using a combination of ceramic tiles and cement renders. One side has been cladded with stainless steel panels sand-blasted with a varying degree by hand to create a dreamy effect.
For the two-bedrooms flat, a modular furniture system with pull-down bed and moveable boxes is installed along two main walls. Together with the bi-folding metal screens, tenants can decide on their living room and bedroom location and organise their preferred interior arrangement.
The roof of the building is intended as a communal space for residents of the building. Each roof is equipped with a dark grey stained concrete sink with exposed aggregates, and next to the two concrete sinks are large troughs for plants or beer baths.