Well known for it’s glittering skyline, Hong Kong is experiencing a shift to a more local, artistic design approach. We get the low down on the best spaces
A tour through Hong Kong’s artistic, architectural spaces
Twenty years on from its return to Chinese rule, this dynamic city is showing signs of a more cerebral and artistic nature. From the exterior, Tuve is a stark, black steel ode to the minimal. Inside, it’s a soothing, dimly lit oasis – its simple marble, concrete and wood spaces a respite from the frenetic surrounds of Tin Hau. By local firm Design Systems, the hotel feels representative of a shift in Hong Kong – from the garish, the Western and commercial to the considered, natural, local and boutique.
Just streets away from Tuve, you’ll find Lin Fa temple, and hole-in-the-wall congee and dim sum joints. On a hot day, though, craft-beer bar Second Draft is the best destination. The stripped-back space heavily references the iconic Star Ferry, its colour scheme, seating and stencil signage. It’s home to an array of Hong Kong beers on tap, and the food by chef May Chow (of Little Bao fame) is a meeting of contemporary Chinese street food and clever pub food.
As a more cerebral, contemporary Hong Kong artscape eclipses the flashy dealer galleries of the past, places like Para Site have come to the fore. The collective, founded in 1996, undertakes exhibitions, publications and educational projects focused on the critical and cultural.
Of a similar aspiration, Spring Workshop is an initiative that plays with the very experience of art, hosting exhibitions, writers, artists and critics in residence, as well as a series of invigorating panels and discussions – both local and international.
Travel ‘Kowloon side’ to the much-anticipated West Kowloon Cultural District. While M+, the contemporary art museum designed by Herzog & De Meuron, won’t be completed until 2019, the M-Pavilion, a temporary space set within the park and its Bladerunner-esque outlook is worth crossing the harbour for. Of course, it’s also well worth visiting the Hong Kong outposts of international galleries Axel Vervoordt, White Cube and Gagosian, all of which focus on Asian artists in the main.
Cultural hunger sated, back on Hong Kong Island is Sai Ying Pun, an area packed with eateries, bars and boutiques. New Zealander Kate Jones’ online gift store get.give.co is ideal for picking up locally made products to take home; while the recently opened Potato Head (outpost of the Balinese beach club) is an excellent place for an Indonesian inflected cocktail.
We like ‘vinyl space’, the Music Room contained within the multi-use space. It is heaven for audiophiles and architecture buffs alike and was designed by Sou Fujimoto, who made his name with London’s sublime Serpentine Pavilion in 2013.
To relax, surround yourself with verdant tropical trees and plants at Hong Kong Park. After a turn about the grounds you can dine on vegetarian yum cha and choose from more than 100 Chinese teas at Lock Cha Tea House. Elderly classical Chinese musicians perform in a soothing wood-paneled room that looks out over the treetops.
For an architectural Hong Kong experience take a day trip to the Chi Lin Nunnery in Diamond Hill. The Buddhist compound and temple is the last remaining example of Tang Dynasty architecture in Hong Kong and construction was carried out in the traditional, iron-nail free manner, all set in expansive, lotus-pond studded gardens.
Statement buildings by global architects spike Hong Kong’s skyline, but one stands out. Zaha Hadid’s Innovation Tower in Hung Hom is a beautifully discordant layer cake of a building; its dynamic, slanted stacking of levels rising airily above the motorway.
Words by: Natalie Smith.