Opus unveiled: Frank Gehry in Hong Kong

by SUZANNE MIAO on May 16, 2012 in Architecture , Interiors
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All eyes are on Opus, Frank Gehry’s first residential project in Asia an ultra-luxury development in Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels

In the 1940s, Hong Kong property developer Swire Group acquired a site on The Peak to build a house for a top executive. Over 60 years later, the company decided to commission a new residential property. Due to its secluded position and 360˚ views (unlikely to be obstructed by future developments), Swire wanted a global architect with a wholly original approach who shared the company’s belief that great architecture can change lives for the better – enter Frank Gehry.

“You couldn’t go wrong with the site,” Gehry says, referring not just to the physical location of Opus, but also its views, which proved to be a significant source of inspiration. “The challenge became about capturing that, so the building feels like it’s part of the view and of the city of Hong Kong.”

At Opus, some of Gehry’s design trademarks are clear. Apparently loathe to produce a simple, straight-up/straight-down ‘box’, his buildings swoop, soar and sway (or, at least, they’re made to look as if they do). His façades are always off-centre, asymmetrical, curved, flowing, rippling – anything but ordinary. And so it is at Opus. Here, the structure is highly unconventional in form, with a spiralling series of curving façades replacing the traditional rigid outlines of a monolithic apartment block. In keeping with its setting, Gehry took an organic approach to the design of the building, which features finely-tuned glass-enclosed columns twisting around the building like reeds swaying in a breeze.

Gehry is adamant that he is not driven by anything other than love for what he does – and is uncomfortable with trying to define ‘good design’. “I don’t know,” he says, simply. “I just do the best I know how to do… People like me take pride in not repeating the past, in responding to the time we live in – and hope for timelessness.”

Read the full story, ‘Opus maximus’, in the June 2012 issue of Perspective magazine!