Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
House 3098 in Lantau Island, Hong Kong by HEAD Architecture
January 3rd, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: HEAD Architecture
When the Hong Kong’s New Territories Exempted House Policy was introduced in 1972, it was intended to improve the standard of housing in rural areas of the New Territories.
Under the policy, every indigenous villager is entitled to apply to build a small house on private land, or on government land at a concessionary premium, within their ancestral village.
Provided the house conforms to certain criteria, these buildings are exempted from formal government submissions. Such criteria include the following:
In recent times, the development of village houses has been subject to abuse. Build quality is often poor, and there is little consideration of environmental impact. The resulting houses also often don’t relate to their context. HEAD feel a social responsibility to design architecture which tackles these issues.
HEAD Design Response
Working within the guidelines for allowable footprint, height and constructional methods, HEAD Architecture created a flexible modular typology which can be applied to any village house.
Many villages suffer from ad-hoc planning. With houses in close proximity, views are often blocked, and privacy restricted. To alleviate this common problem, HEAD have turned the views inward, enabling the house to feel relaxed and private, even in the most densely populated village setting. Central to HEAD’s design is a triple height dining room, which connects all internal spaces together.
In traditional village houses, the lower floors are often dark, with little natural light. In HEAD’s design, the dining room benefits from an eight square metre clear glass skylight, which allows light to penetrate deep into the building. This atrium is a dramatic and visible focus for the home.
HEAD has also been careful to consider the fragile rural character of the village.
The understated exterior treatment of HEAD’s house is compatible with the quiet charm of secluded Shep Mun Kap village. In future houses, HEAD will continue to make careful adjustments to the exterior of each house to ensure that it is harmonious with the fabric of its neighborhood.
In line with HEAD’s philosophy that the new house prototype should minimize impact on the environment, the design embraces passive solar design. The large windows and open plan enable sunlight to penetrate into the building, thus reducing artificial lighting requirements.
The triple height space enables stack-effect ventilation, reducing the requirements for active air conditioning. This is further enhanced with the distribution of ceiling fans through the house. Renewable materials including bamboo flooring have been used where possible. Energy efficient LED lighting has been installed throughout the home.
The house has been readied for the future installation of a Zigbee communication system. This network device enables intelligent control of home entertainment, lighting, air conditioning and security systems. The rooftop has waterproofing, irrigation and drainage ready for the future installation of a green lawn roof. This will help absorb heat and reduce solar gain on the upper floors.
The Way Forward
Together with their partners, HEAD are already preparing to build a second house. This is made possible through cooperation with indigenous villagers and elders. As subsequent houses are built, HEAD will continue to refine the details of the standard module. Such refinements will include additional green features such as solar energy water heaters and solar panels.
HEAD hopes that, by creating a design which is flexible to suit many different village situations, these houses will provide an affordable solution, which enhances the quality of life in Hong Kong’s rural villages.
About HEAD Architecture
HEAD Architecture was established in Hong Kong in 2000 by a group of Architects, designers and project managers who shared the common goal of the pursuit of excellence in architectural design and project management. Their scope of experience broadly covers all aspects of projects from inception, through brief development, conceptual and developed design, tendering and construction supervision.
HEAD has been involved in a diverse range of architectural projects ranging from low-rise residential developments to high rise hotel projects and has experience in residential, hospitality, educational, research and development, production and mixed-use architectural projects throughout South-East Asia. While focusing primarily on residential and hospitality projects, we have also been involved with projects for residential clubhouses, church projects, food courts and the refurbishment of existing buildings.
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