Detour Central – Reclaiming A Moment Of Pause


Fast, fast, fast!

Being efficient, as the most distinctive Hong Kong identity, is reflected at its most expressive form in the centre of our city – Central, Hong Kong. Yet, what does efficiency mean?

When we are endeavouring to maximize all the quantitative parameters of efficiency, do we really live a high-efficient state?

Does efficiency merely mean shorter time and higher speed?

What is the humane part we are giving away?

The definition of hyper-living lies in the full concept of efficiency. The vision of the project is to reclaim the qualitative values in efficiency in order to achieve the state of hyper-living. It aims to add values to transition process by maximizing detouring and pausing opportunities to encourage the city to slow down and recharge.

The project develops from both an urban scale and human scale. When considering the urban scale, by manipulating a change of scale, density and direction, a low-rise village-like group of office buildings is introduced to the site to create an urban pause. For human scale, architectural moments with various programmes are articulated as anchor points to further slow down the flow and provide more detouring opportunities.


Who influences you graphically?

It is hard to say if there is a specific influence. We believe each project is unique and graphic representation is a means to fully interpret the ideas. What we feel about Central District in Hong Kong is that everything is being pushed to extremes at all means – speed, density, land prices and so on. Therefore, we hope to deliver the project through some highly contrasted visual representations.

What defined the use of the monochromatic palette?

We started the project with a strong solid-and-void spatial pattern. The use of the monochromatic palette helped us fully express and develop the project. During the design development, we sometimes got stuck in the correlation between the urban scale and the architectural scale. The drawings reminded us our initial intention to focus on designing the void space. On the other hand, it creates a dialogue between the simplified reality and the disoriented abstraction leading to an emphasis of spatial qualities we were trying to introduce.

What dictated the prevailing use and exploration of the axonometric?

We began with working on plan in the preliminary design stage to develop the master planning strategy. However, we found it difficult to further articulate the spatial tectonic qualities and relationships merely on plan or section in such a large site. The axonometric allows us to look into the specific moments in details and give a three-dimensional expression of the full picture.

How useful was the model in testing out intentions and ideas?

Model making is an important design tool along with the axonometric in this project. The axonometric gives an overall view while the models express the project more specifically at architecture level. We remade the models several times until we found it working with our ideas. Maybe more and more people are now relying on digital models, but we find physical models more effective in terms of exploring the spatial conditions.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in developing and representing the project?

We were dealing with the project at two extreme scales, one at 1:2000, the other at 1:100. Architecturally, it was already hard for us to jump between the two scales – from master planning to spatial articulation. Representation wise, it is also challenging to find a way to address the two scales thoroughly and link them as a whole.