Combining traditional techniques with modern technology, architectural designer Ming Ho uses models to trial innovative building designs
Trained in architecture at the University of Melbourne and the Bartlett School of Architecture, Ming Ho is currently Senior Architectural Designer at the Hong Kong-based LAAB studio and has worked on internationally recognised projects. His works have been previously exhibited at the Bartlett School of Architecture summer show and Fotan's open studios.
How do you meld traditional techniques and modern technology?
Traditional lanterns are lightweight yet structural, a smart, economical and effective piece of design. The methodology of traditional designs is trial and error through a long process of experimenting, evaluating and improving. In our era, with the use of new technologies and software, we can simulate designs under different conditions and tested in the digital realm, making crazy and complex ideas possible.
In my installations, I extract the materials and craft from the past while combining the new sensory responsive motor system as the new software to create a prototype.
What is your design ethos and how is it reflected in your designs?
Design is an ongoing process of problem-solving, shaped by the environment and culture, and should reflect our needs, history, economy and environment. Studying architecture has taught me the importance of model making. My installation prototype reacts to pre-set parameters. To push the idea further, if the building facade could respond to other stimuli, for example, the sun's path or changes in temperature, the system will then calculate and react by providing necessary shading or enhanced ventilation for the enclosure, making the interior space more pleasant. A building is not necessarily static and passive; with the right tools and systems, it can actively engage with people and the environment, and improve our quality of life.
What is Hong Kong design? How can it compete more effectively globally?
To me, Hong Kong design is about adapting and dedication. We never let our physical shortcomings limit ourselves – we turn constraints into opportunities. We should make use of our strategic location in Asia as well as the multi-cultural background society to gather resources and technology from our neighbour cities and fuse them to embrace a diverse culture of both East and West.
Can you tell us about your design for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council 's (HKTDC) DesignInspire exhibition in December?
The installation is an experimental kinetic facade prototype. I have introduced a sensor and motor into the design – the facade opens and closes when people come near it and trigger the sensor, bringing a sense of playfulness to the built space. By combining traditional paper and bamboo craf t ing techniques , the reinterpretation of the past with new responsive ideas creates better living in the future. It is also a vision of how our buildings could be in the near future.
How does this exhibition raise the awareness and interest of the public to Hong Kong designs?
DesignInspire gathers young designers from various disciplines. It is an event for bright minds to share what the future society would be. Showcasing this to the general public would definitely help the public to pay more attention and expect more good designs from our local designers.
DesignInspire … is an event for bright minds to share what the future society would be
Good designs could be breathing points in our daily life. By carefully retaining or reinterpreting the traditional local cultural values, and injecting the past intelligence into our designs, it can remind us of how special and unique we are.
Ho's new installation will be showcased at DesignInspire from December 6 to 8 and can be previewed at the RetroInnovations exhibitions at the Covered Piazza in Times Square (November 19-25) and at Gallery by the Harbour, Harbour City (November 27-December 3).