Design Shaping

In Year 1 we were studying the relationship of the human body to their immediate surroundings and how proportions affect the functional aspect of design. In Year 2 we will expand that objective to a larger environment and will study the relationships of built environment and natural environment.

The objective of this year is to learn how to 1. Observe and draw a phenomenon, 2. Translate it into a conceptual idea in form of models and sketches, 3. Create architectural drawings of the design up to a detail level.

Every building is bound to a specific environment, which is influenced by all kinds of natural phenomena. Standardisation and proprietary solutions of the construction industry have negated the specific relationship of a building to its surrounding with the result that we build similar in Nordic climates as we build in tropical environments. The studio will be an introduction to a critical discourse about designing in a specific environmental context from an technological point of view. We will investigate techniques and technologies that deal with the relationship of building and nature in the context of Hong Kong.

The HKU campus will be the basis of the investigation. Students will start off with a chosen topic and observe, analyse and draw how those topics affect the building and the external and internal spaces. Based on that topic, students will develop an idea for a specific architectural intervention on campus, that either enforces the topic or counter balances it or takes it as an inspiration for spatial experimentation. The program of the design intervention will be given by the studio supervisors, but will not exceed the size of a small pavilion of 150 sqm.

Making Architecture: Shophouse


Under the unprecedented influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, this design studio was conducted entirely online. The use of digital media, referencing and student interaction was incorporated to foster an online studio environment.

Hong Kong is based on trade and commerce. Subsequently, many commercial typologies have emerged. The Tong Lau is its most prominent Hong Kong specific type of the shophouse, consisting of a ground floor shop and an upper floor which is used for storage and/or the owner’s living quarter. A courtyard is located either at the backend or in the centre.

This project introduces context, program and volume for architectural design. Students were asked to work in thee neighbourhoods with different topologies, interacting with their neighbours and the urban slope. The studio was focused on two streams of output: A portfolio, documenting the separate steps using multimedia of photography, text, sketches and technical drawings, as well as digital drawings, which were references to a collective plan displaying the interaction and creating a sense of team effort in the neighbourhood design.


1 Analysis. The first exercise focused on observation and abstraction. Students learned from an existing context by observing, studying and drawing. Students chose any shop in Hong Kong (hawker stalls, wet market, shopping mall etc.), took one specific spatial photo in b/w of that space and drew an isometric drawing, a section, and write a 100 work analytic text.

2 Speculation. The reference project only acted as a starting point to critically investigate a spatial idea and its potentials. Students sketched a speculative section and wrote a 100-word concept about its purpose and function/performance.

3 Variations. Each student proposed three options for a single shop focusing and emphasizing aspects of their speculative section. This created an important transition from abstract drawing to a scaled and functional architectural intervention.

4 Design. Three imaginary urban sites were given with specific site conditions. Each student designed a spatial concept for their Tong Lau based on the previous steps 1-3, interacting with their neighbours and taking into consideration aspects of the environment, context, tectonics and construction.

5 Detail. This exercise focuses on synthesizing the conceptual idea of the shophouse into a constructive detail. A pars pro toto emphasized the consistency of design from big idea to small detail. Students summarized their shophouse in one particular spatial detail at scale 1:20.

Learning outcome

+ develop an intellectual and consistent argument for the development of design
+ understand the impact of structure and construction on the design
+ develop a project based on creative and innovative use of drawings and models
+ design with study models on various scales

E-pathy Home

E-pathy Home 依理家居
Elderly Home Modification Project 高齡人士單位改善計劃


The principle of “aging-in-place” (AIP) highlights the need to allow elderly person to live in their own home and community where they are familiar with as long as they wish. It avoids the risk of losing the sense of security when they are relocated from a familiar physical and social environment. Providing a safe living environment is a critical element in the principle of AIP that reduces the chance of accidents happening at home, especially when live alone.

With the concept of AIP, Project E-pathy Home (the Project) aims to develop a safe and comfortable accommodation for single elderly living in public housing estate.

Project Aims

The ageing population of Hong Kong is growing rapidly in the last decade and will become an imminent issue in the upcoming future. The society should be well prepared to tackle this foreseeable challenge. In the analysis of the housing profile, we understand that single units in public housing provided by the Housing Authority (HA) in the past are designed without specific concerns for the elderly use. These units, however, are accommodating the majority of the grass-root class “self-cared elderly” who are living by themselves with minimal nursing assistance. Because this elderly group does not own their residences, there are no incentives for any home improvement beyond tolerable standards unless being recommended by social welfare officers. According to the HA’s current practice, these households will only be provided with minimal age-friendly facilities, like handrails, non-slippery tiles, upon official referrals. In other situation, they will be swapped to double-units to enable wheelchair accessibility. For both cases, the solutions are not optimal because the renovation nuisance will occur during the former situation and in the latter excessive spatial resources are consumed. So, within the existing confinement of the unit shell envelop, by rethinking the behavioural modes of the elderly, it is meaningful to challenge what can be remodelled to make the single unit more age-friendly.

Performing ‘Hong Kong Memory’

Studio name: Architecture & Urban Design
Tutor: Wallace Chang

Living Cities Rural

Relating to the surviving memory of the city, the specific site of the historical Western Market with a relevant open plaza is selected as the anchor of the old district of Sheung Wan/ Central where urban renewal / regeneration has been taking place.

‘The Hong Kong Memory’ Project has collected and archived significant facets of the city from a grass-root instead of an official perspective. With its approach of understanding the city through the lens of ‘local’ and ‘everyday-life’ stories, it is meant to share, evoke and articulate Hong Kong people’s memories.’ Also, it is envisaged to enrich Hong Kong people’s sense of place. In order to anchor this online archive onto real places, its physical manifesto calls for an architecture that is essential yet critical to translate these audio-visual memories into tangible spatial containments.

As a threshold to allow the communities to appreciate their own past, the architecture should bring forth a vivid and lively interpretation of the Hong Kong Memory [or an essential aspect of the collective memory, e.g. communal life, performing, eating, etc] that is relevant to their current conditions. This interpretation of ‘Reclaiming Central’ is to arouse empathetic inputs and inspire further creative responses. In this connection, there should be a strategy of memory, not to arouse nostalgia but ‘to guard against collective amnesia.’ The derivative of this strategy is to localize the past and to reflect the present, so the architecture is toned to reclaim Central through a ‘performing’ environment.

The studio is a research-based design laboratory with collaboration of Zuni’s ‘Freespace Tech Lab Education Program’. The exploration is intended to develop a model for community-based theatre/venue with a ‘living’ component [as realistic and financial considerations]. The agenda is to create a feasible urban scenario with cultural and communal overlays where ‘micro urban regeneration’ can happen in real place to conserve as well as to continue the local flavor of Hong Kong Memory. The approach follows a 3-stage design development, namely, scenario setting [from object to subject], spatial configuration [from subject to space], and architectural articulation [from space to construct].