gooood team interviews creative individuals under 35 years old from all over the world, some are pioneering founders, some are clients, some are ordinary practitioners. gooood is trying to record the authentic living and working states of this era. Your recommendations and suggestions are appreciated!
gooood Under 35 NO.45 introduces Paul Tse and Evelyn Ting, founders of New Office Works.
More: New Office Works on gooood
出品人：向玲 / Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑：陈诺嘉，武晨曦，石安，盖世昕 / Editor: Chen Nuojia, Wu Chenxi, Shi An, Gai Shixin
我的本科和第一个研究生是在澳大利亚的RMIT上的，那个时候很多在校生和毕业后的建筑师做设计的方法都会用很强烈的颜色和几何语言。我在上学的时候不太喜欢这种强烈视觉的设计，后来发现这是因为学校一个名叫皮尔，科维格Peter Corrigan的教授，他是一个澳洲建筑师，曾在耶鲁上研究生，师从文丘里Robert Venturi。文丘里会在美国周边找一些当地平凡的、甚至“丑陋”的建筑词汇来做建筑，教授将这些对现代主义叛逆的态度和追求属于当地词汇的设计理念拿回了澳洲。他对我的影响不是颜色和几何图型的运用，而是怎样寻找周边的材料做出具地方性的设计。
Paul working in Adjaye Associates in London
Paul Tse (hereinafter referred to as “PT”): Buildings in Hong Kong are often comprised of many different functions. For example, the apartment building I grew up in as a child was huge and operated like a city in microcosm. In addition to apartments and commonly integrated facilities such as restaurants and supermarkets, the building also housed shops, medical clinics, churches, Buddhist halls, schools, karaoke, mah-jong halls, etc. Perhaps because I grew up in such an environment, I was very interested in how one can compose a universe through imagination, so I started studying architecture.
My undergraduate and first Masters degree were done at RMIT University in Australia. At the time, many students and architects graduated from the school would use strong colours and intense graphic as their design methodology, which I wasn’t particularly fond of. Later I discovered that the strong visual language was largely influenced by a professor of the school, Peter Corrigan. An Australian architect, Corrigan was a Yale graduate and had studied under Robert Venturi, known for championing local, ordinary and so-called “ugly” architectural vocabulary around the United States and incorporating these elements into his architecture. I think Corrigan absorbed many of these ideas and brought them, the rebellious attitude towards modernism and the pursuit of local vocabulary back to Australia. His influence on me is not the use of colours and geometric patterns, but how to articulate the context by using as-found surrounding material.
We have gained two important experiences in working at different firms. Firstly, we were able to work on projects of different scales and cultural backgrounds, and secondly, we were fortunate to meet many talented colleagues who are passionate about architecture, which really motivates us to constantly improve ourselves. Smaller-scale design firms can be quite chaotic – you often don’t know what you are going to do, but precisely because of this flexibility you get more experimentation and unexpected new results. In a more established, larger-scale company, each role within the architectural design process is much more defined. We draw on the advantages of both models and try to utilize them in our own practice.
Evelyn Ting (hereinafter referred to as “ET”): I became interested in architecture through writing. The two have a lot in common – in writing, how to construct a story with plot and characters, and in architecture, how buildings contribute to the narrative of the city. I received my undergraduate degree at Columbia University and my master degree at MIT. My experience at Columbia was more devoted to developing the architectural concept and how to describe these concepts through drawings and models. At MIT, my focus was more on technical aspects such as tectonics, materiality, etc. Now running an independent practice, I hope to better bridge the conceptual side of architecture with materials and technology.
Evelyn studying in MIT
New Office Works
丁慧中：在打工的时候，我们经常会下班後回學校没人的課室裏做竞赛。2017年，我们从伦敦搬回香港，想趁着这个机会开始自己的事务所。刚开始的时候我们还没有正式的办公室。怎么用最快最省精力的方法去呈现事务所呢？我们想到了网站。每个网站包括三个核心部分：第一个是告诉访客新的消息，即“new”；第二个是关于事务所的介绍，即“office”；第三个就是事务所的作品，“works”。与网站直接关联起来，我们的事务所就成为了New Office Works，首字母串起来便是“NOW”，反映了我们希望自己做的建筑设计能够跟当代环境产生很亲密的关系。
ET：When we were still working for other firms in New York, we often roamed the university campus for empty classrooms to work on design competitions. In 2017, we moved from London back to Hong Kong and wanted to take the opportunity to start our own firm. At the beginning, we did not have a formal office space. How could we establish the firms’ presence in the fastest and most efficient way? We thought of the website, which usually consists of three core parts: the first is to update visitors on what’s “new”; the second is an introduction to the “office”; the third is the “works” of the firm. Incidentally, our office became New Office Works. The acronym of the office is “NOW”, reflecting our aim to design things that have a strong relationship with contemporary life.
▼New Office Works成立初期的照片
working scene in New Office Works when it was just established
謝怡邦：“NOW”也受到了当代艺术家Ed Ruscha的影响。他在六十年代做了一个作品，叫《Every building on the Sunset Strip》，简单地拿着照相机坐在车上，从Sunset Strip的一端一直拍到另外一端。40年过去了，他用同一个方法拍摄这条道路，只是影片是彩色的。新的作品名叫《Then and Now》，呈现了过去跟现在的关系和变化，二者放在一起仿佛还有对将来的想象。我很喜欢这个作品，也成了我们的灵感来源。我们的设计部叫“Now”，研究部叫“Then”：研究过去的历史文化和建筑词汇，将其运用在现在人类和城市环境的需要中。
PT：“NOW” has also been influenced by contemporary artist Ed Ruscha. One of his seminal works from the 1960s is called “Every building on the Sunset Strip”, where Ruscha simply mounted a camera to the back of his car and shot photographs from one end of the Sunset Strip to the other. Forty years later, he used the same method to shoot the same road, but this time using color film instead of black and white. The new work is called “Then and Now”, which presents the relationship and changes between the past and the present, and when the two moments are put together, their juxtaposition seems to suggest even the future. I like this work very much and it has been a source of inspiration. Our design arm is called “Now”, and our research arm is called “Then”: to study past historical culture and architectural vocabulary, and reinterpret them to suit the needs of our urban environment today.
▼Ed Ruscha 在六十年代的作品：《Every building on the Sunset Strip》
《Every building on the Sunset Strip》by Ed Ruscha
PT: The office is currently composed of me, Evelyn and 6 other colleagues. As I mentioned, a small office can be rather “chaotic”, and everything is thought of by the two of us and the team. Each of us has more than one project on hand, which is similar to how guerrillas operate, with a lot of research and experimentation interspersed in between.
▼New Office Works 办公室，office of New Office Works
Hong Kong and Architectural Design
《Middle Man Hong Kong》
“Hong Kong often plays the role of a ‘middleman’ and it needs to constantly solve two extreme problems.”
謝怡邦：事务所刚开始的时候工作比较少，我们就自己想了一个研究项目。那个时候我们刚回到香港。虽然香港是我们长大的地方，但是经过在国外的建筑理念学习，以及不同地方的工作，再看香港已经跟小时候不太一样了，于是就想用新的角度来看熟悉的地方。我们都很喜欢电影，想自己当导演，城市就是我们的主角。《Middle Man HONG KONG》意为香港中间人，因为香港经常担当一个“中间人”的角色，比如在东方跟西方之间，以及在供应跟需求之间，需要不停地去解决两个极端的问题。香港人多地少，建筑就要解决这个问题；香港山多，就会有扶梯把人直接带到山顶。我们就是以此为出发点，用“中间人”的视角去看香港的建筑。
PT: There was relatively little work when we first started the office, so we initiated a research project ourselves. That was also when we first moved back to Hong Kong. Although we both grew up in Hong Kong, after studying architecture and working abroad in different places, we no longer saw Hong Kong in the same way as when we were young. Thus, we wanted to look at familiar places from a new perspective. We both like movies and want to be directors ourselves; naturally, the city became our protagonist. As the title suggests, “Middle Man Hong Kong” is about how Hong Kong often plays the role of a “middleman”, ie. between the East and the West, and between supply and demand, it needs to constantly solve two extreme problems. For example, we have a large population but very little land on which to build, and the primary purpose of architecture is to solve this problem; we have a lot of mountains with people’s demand for convenience, therefore escalators and other mechanisms are required to transport people around. We used this as a starting point to look at Hong Kong’s architecture through the lens of a “middleman”.
▼《Middle Man Hong Kong》讨论的12个主题，12 themes discussed in 《Middle Man Hong Kong》
▼《Middle Man Hong Kong》视频截图，video snapshots of 《Middle Man Hong Kong》
ET: The short films we made during the research project have a great influence on how we practice. Elevators and escalators can be seen throughout the city, both indoor and outdoor, and palm trees are ubiquitous along the streets. The latter is often perceived as a symbol of relaxation that is often found in leisurely tropical islands. However, in Hong Kong, the palm trees are planted in the middle of the busiest road, which is rather bizarre. We can see how nature and artificial elements come together in such an environment. This condition is often seen in our architectural projects, such as the pavilion at the West Kowloon Cultural District.
PT: When we were shooting the short films, we happened to be working on the competition for the West Kowloon pavilion as well, which perhaps subconsciously affected our design approach. We saw the ambiguity of palm trees, which made the busy city more natural and laid back. There is very little flat land in Hong Kong – you need to think of various ways to deal with the mountainous landscape. As a result, there are many steps in the city with changes in density and directionality. These elements are abstracted and reinterpreted throughout the project.
▼《Middle Man Hong Kong》- 中间人
Middle Man Hong Kong》- Middle Man
▼《Middle Man Hong Kong》- 电梯
Middle Man Hong Kong》- Escalator
▼Middle Man Hong Kong》- 棕榈树
Middle Man Hong Kong》- Palm Tree
Challenges for Hong Kong independent architecture studios
“While a certain amount of control is necessary, it is an incredible challenge to not let one’s distinctive quality vanish.”
ET: The challenges of starting an office in Hong Kong are similar to other big cities elsewhere. Because Hong Kong’s built environment is already very saturated, it is difficult to find opportunities to design standalone buildings. Most projects for smaller firms are responding to this built condition. However, we have also discovered a new mode of architectural practice. Within a large complex project, there are many smaller spaces that require a lot of attention, which is where smaller firms can have opportunities. In this process, we can cooperate with different designers, landscape architects, and engineers, etc. and introduce new elements to the city. The challenge is how to keep one’s voice while maintaining coherency with the larger scheme.
PT: In the beginning, we felt that we were just a small part of a larger whole. But the contemporary city is different from say, 20 or 30 years ago. It is less about a single architect doing a sketch and executing a singular vision. Today, the relationship between architecture and the public as well as the government is increasingly complex. We have learned a lot in this process – within a large project, if every part of the project is designed to seek attention, the final result will be nothing but over-design, and while certain amount of control and consistency is necessary, it is an incredible challenge to not let one’s distinctive quality vanish.
▼New Office Works部分项目，selected projects designed by New Office Works
Projects and Design Methodology
Build a positive relationship between people and the city
“The most important aspect in designing for small environments is to invest one’s effort on small things.”
謝怡邦：我们设计的项目空间都不大。我们认为在小环境做设计最重要的是在小东西上花心思，比如板凳怎么摆，楼梯有多宽，灯怎么放，等等。很多时候我们的设计是从小地方出发的，如何在有限的空间中让人感到舒适，并且实现人与人之间的沟通。巴塞尔艺术展的案例中，我们其实是帮M+ Museum做展厅。他们的概念叫作真人图书馆（Human Library），会让博物馆的员工坐在那里，游客可以跟他们交流，人仿佛变成了艺术品。最简单的做法是把人框起来，但是因为空间有限，我们就把几张凳子放在一起做成了一个框，达到人与人交流的目的，也变成了一件艺术作品。凳子本身还很实用，配有灯和桌子。我们希望尽量做一些功能性的、同时也比较概念性的东西。
PT: The space for each of the projects we design is usually small. We believe the most important aspect in designing in such an environment is to invest most of the effort on small things, such as how the benches are placed, the width of the steps, the position of the lights, and so on. Our design often starts from a small scale – how to make people feel comfortable in a limited space and encourage communication between people. In the case of Art Basel, in which we designed a booth for M+ Museum’s booth, the theme of the design was Human Library, where the interaction between museum staff and visitors becomes the exhibit itself. The simplest way to present this interaction as a work of art is to frame the people’s conversation. Due to the limited space, we designed a set of stools which combined create a strong framing effect. The stool itself is also very practical, equipped with lights and tables. We wanted to create something that is both pragmatic as well as conceptual.
ET: When it comes to the relationship between people and the city, abstraction is an important process to translate different elements of the city into a building. In the Growing Up Pavilion, we identified 6 fundamental characteristics of Hong Kong, such as narrow streets, palm trees and scaffolding, etc. Most people in Hong Kong may not pay special attention to these elements, but if they are reduced and placed in buildings, they will attract people’s attention. These elements become part and parcel of the structure, and visitors can experience them and form an intimate relationship with the pavilion.
▼Growing Up展亭，把香港城市中的不同元素放到建筑中，Growing Up Pavilion, introducing various urban elements into the architecture
Connect building and environment
“We hope to create a network in an archipelago rather than an isolated island.”
ET: We found that there are many buildings with different functions in Hong Kong, but most of them do not have any expression. At the same time, there are many passages between the buildings, and their only function is to bring people from A to B, which contrast with the surrounding multi-purpose expressionless buildings, creating a unique allure to these structures. We hope to capture this kind of relationship in our own buildings.
PT: We are not interested in placing a beautiful object on a site that does not have a dialogue with the surrounding environment. Instead, our focus is to make connections between various parts. A city is never in isolation, but a combination of many different parts. The reason why we are interested in the in-between condition of architecture is that most of the individual buildings in the city have very little distinctive features of their own, but they instantly become different once they are connected to other buildings. We hope that our architecture will also have some such intermediaries to connect them with the surrounding environment, creating a network in an archipelago rather than being an isolated island. When we work on larger-scale projects, we connect individual pieces that have different functions, and intensify the space between them.
▼古根海姆美术馆竞赛方案，design scheme for Guggenheim Art Museum Design Compietition
▼清州新市政厅设计方案，design scheme for Cheongju New City Hall
“Poetry” in Architecture
“Use inconspicuous, everyday objects, and through abstraction and arrangement, create a poetic quality.”
PT: The concept of our installation at the UABB Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale’s Yantian sub-venue is actually very simple. Yantian is one of the largest seaports in China, but the content going through the port remains mostly obscured. Through our research, we learned that inside most of the containers are construction materials and other daily items i.e oil, rice, charcoal, etc. So we built transparent boxes that reveal the contents inside and placed them inside a space that is surrounded by mirrors. Upon entering, one experiences being in an endless space.
Poetry is difficult to explain. Compared with mainland China, Hong Kong’s architecture is more about pragmatism. However, I think in the aggregation of hyper-pragmatic buildings, a certain sense of poetry emerges. In a similar way, our designs are not particularly extravagant, but instead use inconspicuous, everyday objects, or certain archetypal elements from history and culture, and through abstraction and arrangement, create a poetic quality.
▼UABB展览装置，installation design in UABB
ET: In addition to new arrangements, we also investigate new ways of using material. The roof of the Growing Up pavilion uses roof tiles similar to traditional Chinese tiles. However, in order to create a sense of lightness inside the pavilion and allow natural light to enter the entire space, transparent materials were used. At the same time, the scale of the roof tiles is deliberately larger in contrast with traditional tiles. From afar, the roof may resemble a traditional Chinese building, but many differences can be observed in the close-up details.
▼Growing Up展亭屋顶细部，模仿传统瓦片形式，closer view to the roof of Growing Up Pavilion, which is similar to traditional Chinese tiles
Material selection and use
“We hope to cultivate people’s appreciation for natural materials through our own projects.”
ET: We have used wood screens as roofs and partitions in several projects. In addition to the light and shadow effects, we like the rhythm that is established in the repetition of elements. Wood as a material is not common in Hong Kong due to the humid climate and natural materials are difficult to maintain. We hope to cultivate people’s appreciation for natural materials through our own projects. More than merely filling it’s functional purpose, natural materials capture the passage of time.
▼使用木屏风的项目 – Growing Up展亭
Projects using wood screens – Growing Up Pavilion
▼使用木屏风的项目 – SOL海鲜餐厅
Projects using wood screens – SOL Seafood Restaurants
PT: When the Growing Up pavilion first opened, all the timber elements were the same color. Designed to be a temporary structure for six months, the pavilion has been up for almost two years now. Despite the seaside environment and because of the high quality of the wood, the materials are still in very good condition. The columns and beams of the building do not look very different from when they were first built, but the color of the materials has changed significantly in places where people can touch, i.e. the steps and the lower portions of the columns, a trace of their usage and the passage of time. Had we used steel or other synthetic materials, there would not have been such a strong sense of humanity, which reassured us that using natural materials is a good thing.
▼木材使用细部 – Growing Up展亭
Details of wooden materials used in the projects – Growing Up Pavilion
▼木材使用细部 – 香港设计中心
Details of wooden materials used in the projects – Hong Kong Design Center
Industrial Design and Art Installation
“There is a sense of humanity that can be found in industrial design and artwork, and we hope to bring this quality into architecture as much as possible.”
PT: Small-scale projects give us the opportunity to explore new ideas and experiment. We can adopt architectural design methodologies in industrial design or art installations with greater freedom. We hope that things designed on a small scale can be used in larger architectural projects in the future. For example, metal can be finely crafted in smaller scale objects and formed into various shapes. On the other hand, when the same materials are used in architecture, they often become cold and mechanized. Although there is a certain distance between industrial design and architectural design, there is a sense of humanity that can be found in industrial design and artwork, and we hope to bring this quality into architecture as much as possible.
▼小尺度设计项目 – Off Grid
Small-scaled design projects – Off Grid
▼小尺度设计项目 – Brief Encounters
Small-scaled design projects – Brief Encounters
Working in Mainland China
“Drawing helps us to bridge cultures, languages and geographic differences, and enable us to realize projects in different cities.”
PT: In the Haikou residential project, we designed an indoor garden at the beginning to blur the boundary between inside and outside. Since one of the client’s wishes was to sleep inside a garden, we located the bed on the lower floor of the house, without any walls or doors, so that the owner could sleep directly in the garden. Other rooms such as the living room and kitchen are all placed upstairs. The staircase is a central feature of the project, a monolithic object just like the cores that can be seen in the streets of Hong Kong. Upon arriving at the entrance, one can only see the spiral staircase and the entrance hall, which creates a big contrast with the indoor garden on the other side of the wall.
▼住宅室内，一层花园和卧室，interior of the house, garden and bedroom on the ground floor
PT: One of the biggest differences between working in Hong Kong and mainland China is the amount of space. In each Hong Kong project, we have to think very hard about how to make use of every millimeter, while in mainland China there is far greater freedom in terms of space. In addition, Hong Kong is more conservative because of its mature construction industry. Although the mainland also has corresponding regulations and constraints, there is still a lot of room for design. We recently won an open competition to transform an ancient building into a hotel in Sichuan. This type of project is very difficult to find in Hong Kong. As for construction administration, because construction intent is communicated through drawings and specifications, these are useful tools to bridge cultures, languages and geographic differences, and enable us to realize projects in different cities.
▼Open Courtyard，川西林盘设计竞赛精品酒店胜出方案，Open Courtyard, wining project in Chuanxi Linpan Design Competition for boutique hotels
PT: We hope that our design can reach the public and can change the outside world’s inherent perception of Hong Kong’s architecture and design. Some of our on-going projects in Hong Kong include public spaces, such as architectural and landscape design of the harbourfront, pier, and public performance venues. We also work on projects in mainland China and Southeast Asian cities, such as Vietnam and Singapore. We want to strengthen exchanges with the architecture and design community in the mainland and other parts of Asia. Although Hong Kong and other Asian cities have their own specific cultural and regional considerations, in the context of rapid development of Asian cities as a whole, there are many shared common questions, such as the urban renewal and the aging population, and we can certainly learn from each other.
▼正在进行中的项目 – Van Don机场免税店
Project in process – DFS Van Don Airport
Writing and architectural design
ET: Writing and architecture have a lot in common. When writing, I will look for detailed references and carefully choose vocabulary that best articulates the story and creates atmosphere. In architectural design, we will select certain elements in the city and study the possible configuration in trying to develop an architectural concept. Thinking about projects in the role of an editor is also one of the influences of writing on architectural design. When writing, you usually have to go through a manuscript many times to make the storyline or article content clearer. Architecture goes through similar steps from concept to realization.
▼Evelyn Ting撰写的文章《隐藏的类型》，Pascal Greco – Hong Kong_Hidden typologies by Evelyn Ting and Paul Tse
謝怡邦：我从哥伦比亚大学毕业后，和一个比利时建筑师 Kersten Geers一起教授了一门研究生课程。因为哥大当时仍然对于追求运用最新的电脑技术去改变设计，但是Kersten教建筑的方法很纯粹，不让学生使用3D軟件，可以说是属于很传统的教学方式，但在当时大家都在谈论数字建筑的环境下有了很大的冲击。我们规定每个学生通过简单的拼贴图（collage），模型，和平面图这些最直接的方法来做设计。学生们除了要理性地解决功能的要求外，更总是要去探讨建筑本身的意义。通常学校会鼓励学生自由地探讨想象的世界，但学生很多时候会忽略了同时要考虑周边环境和现实的限制。我经常提醒学生要不断的从多个角度去看建筑，但最重要是跟着自己的兴趣走，做你觉得真实的建筑。不要因为别人做什么或时代流行什么就做什么，而是要根据内心真实喜欢和相信的东西去做，只有这样才能实现真正代表你的想法。
ET: Teaching architecture can be good training, as you constantly question what architecture is and how it should be done. It also allows us to re-examine and be critical of our own design work. Teaching gives us room to take a step back from our daily practice, and think about architecture and construction from another perspective. As for advice to architecture students, I think considering the tools used in the design process is very important. I highly encourage students to experiment with different modes of production, which will have a direct affect on the design outcome.
PT: After graduating from Columbia University, I co-taught a postgraduate design studio with Belgian architect Kersten Geers. At the time, Columbia was still advocating the use of the latest computer technology as a way to change how we design, but Kersten’s teaching method – preventing students from using 3D software – was rather pure, to a point where it could be considered conventional. But that was when everyone was talking about digital and parametric design, and so such an approach was a breath of fresh air and had a great impact on the overall discourse. The students were asked to use simple collages, models, and floor plans to design in the most straightforward way. In addition to rationally resolving functional requirements, students were constantly asked to explore the meaning of building itself. Usually schools will encourage students to freely explore the imaginary world, and as a result neglect to consider the surrounding environment and the limitations of reality. I often remind students to constantly look at architecture from multiple angles, but the most important thing is to follow your own interests and do what you think is authentic. Don’t just follow what others are doing or what is popular, but do what you really are interested in and believe in. I think it’s the only way you can realize ideas that truly represent you.
▼Paul 和 Kersten Geers 在哥伦比亚大学
Paul and Kersten Geers teaching in Columbia University