Florent Nedelec of Florent Nedelec Architecture does not specialise in interiors, but he certainly has an influence on them. With interior designers increasingly extolling the style and health virtues of getting our outdoor space inside, Nedelec’s latest project at South Lane in up-and-coming Sai Wan is Hong Kong’s newest example of architecture leaning that way.
“I did the work by layers. I used a different type of materials. I like streamlined buildings with a single shape. And I like glass,” begins Nedelec, describing the process of EIGHT SOUTH LANE’s design. “In all my buildings there’s a lot of glass and that’s particularly useful in Hong Kong. Spaces are very constrained, very small, and you want to open the inside space as much as possible.”
The French native worked at Ateliers Jean Nouvel in Paris before relocating to Hong Kong and putting his stamp on hospitality projects such as Twenty One Whitfield and The Jervois and Yong He Yuan in Taipei and 3 West 57 Residences in Manhattan. EIGHT SOUTH LANE is his latest, and the unassuming address incorporates Nedelec’s aesthetic with an eye toward seamlessly melding exteriors and interiors. Tucked between Hill and Queen’s Roads, EIGHT SOUTH LANE is surrounded by other buildings, so the outdoor feeling is hard to capture, and with interiors by Melbourne-based BARstudio, exploiting the space is a must.
“I work with layers, so the outside has that first layer of a glass curtain wall and aluminium. It’s a bit cold, but behind it we have a single layer of stone, a natural, warm material and inside there’s wood, which is warmer still,” he explains. “So there’s a logical progression from something that is cold to something warmer; from industrial to more natural; from sleek to raw. I try to give a sense of clarity and using the layers gives a sense of movement. You feel you’re moving into the building.” The 25-storey New World development also includes a small plaza, the kind that dot city centres from Zurich to New York, to one side that connects the residential lobby to the street, an annex in the rear and a residents’ lounge.
But one of the features that is likely to draw the most attention is the opening, bi-folding doors incorporated into each unit, which all come with balcony space. It’s arguable as to whether it’s an architectural or interior feature, as it’s an element requested more and more often where interiors are being redone. A balcony or terrace is great but one with a de facto removable wall is better, and Hongkongers are demanding the option of truly throwing open the doors. “I like to mix interiors and exteriors, and because I use so much glass it’s very important. The two work together and 50 percent of your interior space speaks to the outside,” says Nedelec. “You want to extend your interiors. And it’s so much nicer than just opening a little window.”