Ivy and Kim are both second-year Bachelor of Arts (Architecture) students in the University of Hong Kong. Meeting each other through a compulsory architecture course, they completed a project in our Centre. In groups of two, the students studied how humans interact with water, wind and light in architecture. They then made a proposal to be carried out within the Centre, aiming to improve visitors’ experiences.
The two used ‘water’ as their theme, designing a two-story open structure, replacing the current Water Supplies Department’s gates. The Centre which once was living quarters for the Water Supplies Department’s staff, would once again be connected to the department with their design. The roof is built with aluminum plates of different inclination, creating a progressive water film, directing the water to the water-storing tank on the ground. The second floor is a half-indoor glass house, looking down on the Centre, the University, as well as the grassy roof of the Water Supplies Department’s Drinking Water Service Reservoir. The reception of the Centre is placed on the ground level, aiming to allow the receptionist to interact with all visitors.
Ivy and Kim: the first time we came here, we felt the environment is very comfortable, the exhibition hall even has a rustic-style verandah, yet the entrance faces a metal fence, the verandah faces wire nettings, looking cold and detached. So we came up with an architecture to replace the coldness by combining a pavilion, a Chinese-style garden and an observation deck.
We had to pick the element we wanted to pursue before knowing what the project was about, and we feel having picked water has both upsides and downsides. If there’s no rain there’s no water. As we thought of that, we created this roof that allow light to pass through even if it doesn’t rain. From another perspective, at least water is physical; perhaps light and wind would be even harder to express!
Most traditional constructions seal off water from indoor areas, we did the exact opposite, designing a roof that allows water to flow inward. We worked on using different inclination of the aluminum plates to create the water film. On the stairs leading up to the second floor, you can see the increasing intensity of the water film. Once you reached the glass house on the second floor, you suddenly arrive at an open space, creating such a sharp contrast that we hope can have a calming effect. When we created our models we thought of putting chairs, book shelves and meditation facilities inside, but we later thought it should be up to the users to decide how to feel and use the space for themselves.
Last year we almost came up here every two days, some groups even came every day, now we’re very familiar with the Centre!