Arts and crafts

Located on a typically Hong Kong alcove street atop one of Sai Ying Pun’s MTR exits is the new Artisan House, the latest addition to New World Development’s Artisanal Movement collection. The 33-storey tower at 1 Sai Yuen Lane (with just a handful of flats still available), is going above and beyond in its design concept. With the largest of approximately 250 small flats clocking in at just 462 saleable square feet, New World and its designers have put a lot more into Artisan House’s public spaces pound for pound than they have into previous Artisanal properties—and the burgeoning lifestyle developer unveiled them in late September.

Brooklyn in Spirit

Following Eight South Lane, Eight Kwai Fong serviced apartments and Bohemian House, Artisan House’s aesthetic was already mapped out for it. The art and artefacts that dot the other properties were to be expected, as was a swish function space for the dinners that wouldn’t fit in the flats, and a healthy dose of outdoor space. This time around, New World tapped Brooklyn-based nARCHITECTS to exploit what it considered the similarities between Western District and the venerable New York neighbourhood. Speaking to Hong Kong developers’ taste for hyperbole, nARCHITECTS co-founder Mimi Hoang agreed the two neighbourhoods were distinct, but that they do share a spatial philosophy.

“[The comparison] is not as specific to Brooklyn as that. What we’re trying to do is not erase history; we’re trying to speak to different layers of history. For us it was informative to think about what the lots originally were—they were seven individual lots—and so the podium and the whole building constantly zigs back and forth,” she says. Hoang says acknowledging the scale of the old shops that sat where Artisan House now does contributed to the final design and give the tower its personality. “The plan is about a subtle setting back, and subtle layering. We’re trying to evoke the scale of the old context even though we’re working on a single tower.”

But if “Brooklyn” is a buzzword like “organic” or “green”, it runs the risk of losing its meaning, particularly when it has no connection to the product it’s attached to. However, Eric Bungen, nARCHITECTS other co-founder, sees the connections as more social as well. “I don’t think we see it as a marketing buzzword. We don’t see one-to-one or literal connections. There are people that have been living here a long time, and introducing a new project is inherently going to change the area. We need to be sensitive to that, and I think that’s the parallel to Brooklyn.”

An Urban Benchmark

As its first project in Hong Kong, nARCHITECTS found itself faced with a rash of regulations and restrictions— chiefly dealing with space—they never had previously, and it’s their creativity that has given Artisan House its character. “We tried to leverage the constraints for something positive, particularly in the sky garden and the clubhouse,” notes Bungen. Indeed, the outdoor and common spaces are where Artisan House stands out.

Working from the outside in, the tower’s façade layers the old and new, and features a unique two-degree tilt on its balconies, complemented by alternating mirrors on the bottom of each floor. The effect is a rhythmic reflection of the city beyond. Moving into the lobby, the entryway’s exterior bronze carries through, and tailored patterning gives way to the clubhouse’s floor-to-ceiling windows, mixed font detailing, and historical masonry retaining walls. The clubhouse gives residents their first taste of the building’s arty side, with sonic art piece Rehearsals by Hong Kong artist Samson Young in the dedicated third floor gallery. Down the hall just ahead of the function room is Sai Yuen Lane Pet Supply by Chicago native Adrian Wong, inspired by the architectural and social heritage of the neighbourhood. The installation envisions a family-run pet shop as “a platform to explore the cultural connections between age-old shops and the local community in an era of change.”

Ecology is a major element of the fifth level Sky Garden. Dotted with breakout spaces for greater privacy as well as dining patios for entertaining, the podium is a lush urban garden with a green wall comprised of diverse regional foliage. Designed by P Landscape, the Sky Garden is an impressive haven where residents can relax and downshift. Beijing artist Wang Shang contributes Mons Allularia to the garden, a tile-based series commissioned especially for the property and designed to blend into the fabric of the building. Based on the lattice shape of leaves, the tiles are meant to symbolically connect the architecture to what was once the dominant surrounding nature and the area’s geological history.

The clubhouse was, in line with all Artisanal Movement properties, designed to foster a sense of community within the address, and includes a fully equipped gym, and music and game corner. As meticulous as nARCHITECTS was with the distinct façade and its periscope effect, both Bungen and Hoang recognised that Artisan House is ultimately a home. “We’re not just about functionality,” finishes Hoang. “We don’t want other designers to agree with everything in our building. We welcome the input of other creatives; we welcome whimsy in the built environment.”

Units in Artisan House range between 199 and 462 square feet, and current prices begin at approximately HK$8 million. For details refer to