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Cubes Magazine

WilkinsonEyre Explores Boundaries In Hong Kong

The global architecture practice presents a selection of their work through a beautiful and unearthly new medium.



BY Tamsin Bradshaw

18 May, 2018


For WilkinsonEyre, architecture bridges art and science, says Matthew Potter, and this is what Exploring Boundaries is all about.

Exploring Boundaries is an exhibition of glass boxes that depict 11 of the architecture practice’s works in a unique and beautifully luminous way. The exhibition opened on 15 May and will run until 26 May 2018 at the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery at Hong Kong’s Fringe Club. Alongside the projects in their boxes, visitors can watch a film showing the same works through sketches, plans, renderings and images. WilkinsonEyre chose each of the works on show with great care, in a bid to demonstrate the scope of their work in Asia and around the world.

“What we wanted to show with the combination was the common approach we take,” says Potter, who is Managing Director, Asia Pacific, at WilkinsonEyre. “We like to understand what the problem is and what the best way of solving it is. We don’t like to come in with any predefined solutions to a problem.”

On display are six projects from the Asia Pacific region, including the award-winning, 440-metre-tall Guangzhou International Finance Center – which uses a diagrid structure and triangular plan to create an environmentally and space-efficient tower.

Also on show are two Hong Kong projects that are works-in-progress: a 200-metre Sky Bridge over one of the runways at Hong Kong International Airport, and the restoration of the Main Building at the University of Hong Kong, a heritage building first constructed in 1912.

“We’ve never tried to make ourselves specialists in one sector or another. Actually, we think it’s incredibly beautiful to learn things from one sector and see how this can shed light on other sectors,” says Potter.

Despite the incredibly varied nature of the work on show here, the glass boxes bring them together. “We thought it was a good medium to give a common thread to all these projects, which are actually very diverse,” says Dominic Bettison, Director of WilkinsonEyre’s London office, and founder of the Hong Kong office. “Not only in terms of the type of work but also in terms of the different sectors they’re in, or where they are – whether they are simple structures that don’t have any enclosure to them, to the Singapore Gardens by the Bay, where they’re the biggest structures of the kind anywhere in the world. We’re jumping vast differences in scale.”

The glass boxes are something WilkinsonEyre has experimented with before on certain projects. “We found it was really helpful to turn our 3D information into this virtual representation of a building and to show it to clients; to show them this is what the building actually is looking like at the moment or could be, if we keep going along this route,” says Bettison.

Aside from the practical benefits, their appeal also lies in their other-worldly quality – they seem to float, illuminated from within, inside the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery. “They’re a bit more like drawings – they’re a bit more aspirational,” says Potter. “And yet, they’re enormously accurate because they’re all measured in CAD to a thousandth of a millimetre, but it gives you something a little more ethereal [than a physical or computer model].”

 

“This isn’t just an engineering endeavour, and these aren’t just cold outputs from the computer,” adds Bettison. “These are being really carefully put together. We’ve had a dedicated team doing the artwork for these artworks for months. If you just pressed the button on one of the models we have, it would be gibberish, and you wouldn’t be able to understand what you were looking at. These glass models have been stripped back, with emphasis placed on certain components, reducing the emphasis on other elements. Each one is a little piece of art in its own right.”

With their careful balance between precision and art, these glass boxes are a fitting representation for WilkinsonEyre’s outlook on architecture itself. “We work very closely with our engineers to come up with buildings that look elegant and effortless,” says Potter. “Architecture is not just engineering; it lifts the soul.”


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