Last friday I had the great pleasure of meeting one of the most well known Hong Kong architects, Gary Chang. I met Gary for a tour in his studio, EDGE DESIGN LTD, which is located in Quarry Bay and for the purpose of doing an interview in his apartment afterwards.
For the last two decades Gary Chang and his multidisciplinary studio, EDGE DESIGN LTD, have been dealing with the topic of limited space in various architecture and interior projects. Today Gary's work is admired all over the world because small space living due to urbanization has become a global phenomena. Gary further explains:
“My home is actually visited every week. From people all over the world; students, workers, everyone. The interesting thing is, that in the last ten years the visits are almost non stop. It never fades out; it just gets more and more.”
Gary's apartment has become world famous; it is a small 32 square meters apartment carrying more than 24 rooms. Gary refers to it as a Domestic Transformer and if you don't already know it you can explore much more about this amazing placing here. Gary grew up in this very same apartment with not only his parents and three younger sisters, but also tenant renting one room. Growing up in this almost unbelievable compact home was the decisive reason that Gary decided to study architecture, he explains me.
Gary’s lifelong studies in the small space living has made him an expert in his field. He has no systematically way of working, he says. Though he later describes his overall process of development in five consecutive points.
Underneath is my visual illustration explaining these principles + other important points from the interview.
In general Gary meets the constraints of limited space by working with transformacy in order to increase and play with the dimensions of a space:
“The transformation makes your home operate in a way where it’s much bigger than the physical size"
Another great example on this is the Suitcase House, a hotel Gary designed in Beijing. The level of transformation in this project is even more extreme than in Gary’s own apartment. The entire house can be transformed into one big empty room when all 54 panels are closed.
When opening the panels it allows you to walk down into the floor and use the build-in functions and facilities. Gary explains further the great opportunities that the transformer solution gives to a hotel of this size:
“(…) in the evening they use the space for dancing and in the morning they use it for yoga or a seminar.”
In Gary’s own place, he happily demonstrates every function in his interior and explains how he arrange the walls for different purposes. During the demonstration of the apartment I realize how large amount of important details and factors Gary had been taken into consideration when he designed the place 8 years ago; how to create private space, deal with acoustics and make the home function more formal for some occasions etc.