Via architects has transformed Hong Kong art space ArtisTree into a dynamic venue that resourcefully marries creative architecture and support for the arts with business realities and technological necessity
In a city better known as a financial hub than a centre of culture, it's not every day a Hong Kong architectural firm gets the opportunity to transform a popular exhibition-style venue into a flexible performance-orientated space. Yet that's exactly the brief Swire Properties gave to Via for its ArtisTree space in Quarry Bay.
In the eight years since the integrated practice's creation, Via has worked in residences, restaurants, offices, retail venues and more, including notable projects such as a show flat for The Parkside and the W50 office development in Wong Chuk Hang. But when it came to a venue for the arts, the company didn't have a great deal of experience. This project was very much a case of rising to the occasion.
Opening in June this year in Cambridge House – a smaller but more prominent location within Taikoo Place than its previous Cornwall House siting – the 650-sqm space embodies a more sculptural and movement-orientated character than its predecessor.
Frank Leung, Via's founder and principal, envisioned the venue in terms of the aesthetics of sound travelling through space, and its visual elements being akin to "broadcasting to the community", clearly drawing on the world of theatre for inspiration. The firm imagined an inclusive open-box concept aimed at encouraging a diversity of activities within and designed to cater to a range of audiences.
"The open concept, taking advantage of the venue's prominent location, and the idea of translating movement into abstract architectural language, really took hold for the Swire Properties team," Leung says.
So many of Hong Kong's experimental performance venues tend to be bare shells, hallmarked by high ceilings, fixed seating arrangements and little else. Performers often have to bring their own sets, audiovisual gear and lighting. Swire Properties wanted ArtisTree to come complete with the basics needed for performances, including seating that could be configured in a variety of ways. According to Babby Fung, head of office marketing at Swire, it was the "clever" open box-style concept for the space that drew support for Via to carry out the project. The property giant had faith that Via's vision for the venue would lure new visitors and audiences to the many different events it had in mind for the latest ArtisTree.
Photography by Via Architecture
This is an excerpt from the “Dramatic Art" article from the September 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
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