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SMALL PLACE, BIG IDEAS

by Mavis Wong on Jun 13, 2012 in Architecture , Interiors , Lifestyle
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Space is at a premium at the new Ovolo hotel, but the experience is richer than you could possibly imagine

When it comes to a hotel room as small as 150 sq-ft, it’s natural not to expect much – a comfy bed plus a clean bathroom would be enough. But if you’ve assumed that’s all the new Ovolo hotel has to offer, it will come as a complete surprise when you set foot in its guestrooms. The space is compact yet feels spacious, and comes with some lovely design elements.

Like all other Ovolo establishments, this service apartment property-turned hotel in Central was conceived by Hong Kong-based KplusK Associates. Paul Kember, the firm’s director and senior architect, talks to Perspective about this latest project.

How did you come up with the Japanese theme?
This building was originally a service apartment property, with one unit per floor and two studio units. Then, Girish (founder and CEO of the Ovolo Group) came up with the idea of putting three units on one floor, which we found was quite a challenge in terms of space. So we started looking at different projects and we were intrigued by a number of Japanese projects, like the Akasaka Prince designed by Kenso Tange in the 1970s. One of the nice things about the way he designed the hotel was that the bathrooms were very compact. So, the Japanese inspiration is not simply visual, but more of how hotels in Japan are spatially designed.

Was redesigning the layout a difficult task?
It became slightly easier because you don’t have to have kitchen and dining facilities. We tried to make it as compact as possible to free up space for living and enjoying. Also, you’ll notice that the bathrooms are totally identical, even though the room configurations are different. Within the bathroom, we tried to create an effect that is spatially compact but visually complex so that it feels bigger – like the Tardis in Doctor Who, which is a space that feels much bigger than it actually is.

What strategies did you employ to make the room appear larger?
We’re lucky that the floor-to-ceiling height is quite good so it actually feels spacious. We have floor-to-ceiling glazing and created a series of elements that are quite low. The bed on the platform gives a greater sense of privacy and a feeling of being inside a bedroom. You have to step up to enter this ‘bed zone’ from the entrance, where we have flooring almost like Japanese stone paving – it feels like an outdoor space, breaking down the threshold between the inside and outside. It’s a nice interplay of space and material.

So the guestrooms are imbued with a Japanese touch…?
With the design of standard, cookie-cutter hotel rooms around the world, you never really know where you are because the design is so rigid in terms of the way space and material are used. So in the sense that part of our inspiration was Japanese, our real aim – maybe a little more from a theoretical standpoint – is to give a sense of Hong Kong and of an oriental flavour, not just something strictly Japanese.

How does the design adhere to Ovolo’s ‘effortless living’ philosophy?
Hopefully the space is quite ergonomic. Part of the idea was to create something that engages your senses – even though it’s quite compact and simple, it has some sensuality to it.

Opening 24/7, how does the multipurpose lounge change from day to night to suit all guest needs?
By using different types of mood lighting and being open to natural daylight, the room transforms itself from day to night.

What would you say was the biggest challenge?

It’s certainly the most compact hotel we’ve designed so far. The challenge was to work through the spatial compactness, while trying to visually expand the space. It’s something we’re going to use on a number of other hotel projects with the Ovolo Group. So, in a way, this is a prototype for upcoming projects.



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