Walk the walk

by TERESA CHOW on Feb 17, 2012 in Architecture , Lifestyle
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Hong Kong is far from a bicycle-friendly city, but as the culture of cycling grows, some bikers are taking it onto roads as well into the retail space.

Opened late last year by four cycling enthusiasts and green movement advocators, Spread by Gum perfectly maximises a shoe-box space measuring just 350 sq-ft in the bustling Tsimshatsui district of Hong Kong. More than just about commercial concerns, the space performs a dual function as both bike shop and exhibition space.

Before Spread by Gum came about, it was simply ‘GUM’ – the acronym for ‘Green Urban Mobility’ – which had successfully established itself in the bicycle market with a workshop in San Po Kong. Not long ago, the owners felt that the time had come to increase their exposure.

Raymond Leung, one of the partners in GUM, is also the co-founder of architectural company Eureka, which he co-founded with Annette Chu. It was only logical, therefore, that he and Chu, together with student intern Joshua Leung, took on the challenge of designing the space. “Our clients are very open-minded; they wanted a space to perform which also acts as a social hub for like-minded customers and friends to mingle,” says Chu.

Previous overseas cycling experiences in places like Taiwan and Vancouver convinced the members of GUM that they wanted to communicate the same positive message to Hong Kong. “As our name suggests, we want to promote green mobility in this city,” says Leung – he is not alone in this matter, as a rapidly growing cycling culture is spreading in the territory, with the authorities being urged to improve the basic infrastructure and introduce more cycling tracks.

This, then, was the starting point of the design, Chu says: “To achieve green, clearly, we had to begin with materials.”

Recycled cardboard was selected to create a unique character for Spread by Gum, resulting in a distinctive feature wall inspired by the ‘pin art’ or pinscreen executive toy. Around 5,400 paper tube rolls were used to form the ‘play and display’ wall, which was developed as a concept to amalgamate the functional needs of a shop and the fluidity of a gallery or event space.

 Read the full story in the March 2012 issue of Perspective magazine!