New developments always make news in Hong Kong. The end-user market is as strong as it’s ever been and investors haven’t vanished completely. But when a project comes with the pedigree of co-developers Wing Tai Properties and Nan Fung Development’s Homantin Hillside people really sit up and take notice.
The last residential project to demand attention for reasons other than price and location was probably Swire Properties’ Opus, designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry. Now, Homantin Hillside is looking to steal that thunder by tapping award-winning multinational design firms Arquitectonica, Yabu Pushelberg and Andy Sturgeon Landscape and Garden Design to collaborate on the SAR’s newest luxury address.
Though the development has yet to decide on an official address, its two towers will be tucked at the edge of the green border provided by King’s Park, Ko Shan Park, Ho Man Tin Park and the Ho Man Tin East Service Reservoir Playground near Shun Yung Street — a few minutes from the proposed Sha Tin MTR link. But it is the hillside location and design vision that stands out. In the developers’ words, Homantin Hillside will take its design cues from its geography, playing with the existing contrasts between rigidity and fluidity, nature and the man-made.
Homantin Hillside’s architecture will come courtesy of Miami firm Arquitectonica’s founding principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia. Arquitectonica is responsible for some of the world’s most design-forward structures, including City of Dreams in Macau, Swire’s Brickell in Miami, Manila’s Mall of Asia and Landmark East — among others — here in Hong Kong. Each is undeniably an Arquitectonica design, and like any innovative architect, Arquitectonica has its critics. “The forty-five-story Westin is the most garish tall building that has gone up in New York in as long as I can remember” Paul Goldberger wrote in The New Yorker in 2002. “It is fascinating, if only because it makes Times Square vulgar in a whole new way, extending up into the sky.” Conversely, Wired New York commented of the same building, “This spectacular new hotel is designed as two 45-storey prisms split by a curving beam of light that soars above the New York skyline — a dramatic icon marking the west entrance to Times Square,” finishing with the notion it’s, “Destined to become a New York City landmark.” Arquitectonica’s divisive, signature flowing, geometric modernism will be the hallmark of Homantin Hillside. The buildings’ exteriors will be crystal clear, and in keeping with the firm’s manipulation of colour, will be infused with shades of blue that blur the proverbial line between sky and water. Balconies will be curved to lend a sense of movement that blends in with the area’s physical hilliness.
Toronto design firm (George) Yabu (and Glenn) Pushelberg have put their stamp on and the Waldorf Astoria in Beijing, New York retailer Barney’s and the new Four Seasons flagship in Toronto. YP is recognised for its innovative interiors that seem to change from moment to moment while maintaining an elegant simplicity and attention to detail. A look at their portfolio reveals a tendency to indulgence without sacrificing comfort as well as seamless integration with a project’s architecture.
In this case the architecture includes landscaping by Andy Sturgeon, best known for the London Eye Pod Garden. Sturgeon, however, has also worked on dozens of commercial, public and private green spaces (like Westminster Terrace in Hong Kong) and has been recognised for his work with a whopping 35 awards. At Homantin Hillside he’ll be responsible for the infinity garden, a mix of traditional Italian and English style gardens on the site.
The final product at Homantin Hillside should be a residence that incorporates watery and woodsy elements with a contemporary polish highlighted by abundant neutral tones and naturalistic interiors. Windows maximising natural light are nearly floor to ceiling height and clean layouts maximise usable space. And no matter which side of the fence you stand on, it’s sure to become one of Hong Kong’s most talked about buildings.