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Wednesday, September 28, 2016


AFTER: Hong Kong tiny apartment sings with creativity.  Sliding wall separates kitchen with bath (right) when needed.

GUEST BLOG / By LAAB Architects--Michelle Tennant and Andy Knight came to LAAB, a Hong Kong based architectural firm, with big laundry list of needs to upgrade their newly acquired apartment also in Hong Kong.  Top of the list items fitting in a full American-style kitchen, large bathtub, home cinema, gym, cat friendly spaces and plenty of storage.
BEFORE: Compare with above; entry is center of image

Because the couple wanted to live in the heart of Hong Kong’s vibrant Central district, the couple was willing to acquire and remodel a 309 square foot abode.
It’s no secret, Hong Kong is already one of the most expensive places in the world to live, and nowhere is this truer than in Central.

Given the choice of putting all of their resources to gain an extra 30-50 sq.ft. in the existing space or go with professional space planning that would create the feeling of much more space, the couple chose to go with interior design.

To realize their ambitious plans, the team at LAAB had to think beyond static spaces. “We began considering time as a factor, eventually designing the space around a Form Follows Time philosophy,” said LAAB co-founder Otto Ng, “which means that spaces open and close depending on the purposes needed at that particular time.  A great example of time centric design is what LAAB created surrounding the bathtub.  That one space can take the following forms:

--The traditional bathroom with separate bathtub so that a guest can shower while the host brushes teeth or vice versa;
--Second tier seating creating a two tiered home cinema or seating for large groups of friends
--Guest bedroom for short stay guests.”

Tub is below second tier guest bed space

Ng of LAAB adds, “other forms can also be blended, allowing for a home cinema experience while in the bath, or movie viewing for host and guest while both are in bed. Achieving this level of flexibility in this area and others required over 30 design iterations and large amounts of experimentation.”

The architects pointed out, all elements, from the 4K curved TV, to the dining table, to the make-up table and storage are all designed to hide flat and smooth to keep the flat looking neat and spacious.

NEW: Overhead view of redesigned 309 square foot apartment in Hong Kong

A range of app-controlled smart home technologies have also been implemented, primarily Philips Hue bulbs and the August smart lock. The lights are able to slowly brighten the room in the morning, giving the couple a gentle wake-up while the door lock means they can enter effortlessly or send electronic keys to friends to help them look after their cats.

MEOW: More OW and less ME with 3 cats in 309 square feet, but that's what the client wanted.

Cats and their needs were a very important factor in this design. You could say that the apartment was not only designed for Michelle and Andy but also for their three cats, Banoffee, Dumpling and Tuxedo. Cat areas include a cat walk around the ceiling, cat ladder, litterbox hidden beneath the bathroom sink, cat food trays hidden within the kitchen cabinets and a hidden den for them to relax in.

Implementing these cat friendly concepts was a challenge.  Materials, details and mechanical systems were all strategically designed to keep the spaces dry, cleanable, cat-friendly, and free of undesirable smells. For example, the cat litter box has been equipped with its own ventilation system that pulls smells out of the building.

INNOVATIVE: Slide the TV wall into view for entertaining; behind Andy another sliding wall closes in the master bedroom area.

Andy and Michelle summed it up, “The most important thing is how comfortable the apartment is.  Many of our friends come over and visit our place, and they have never seen such a nice kitchen even though their own apartments are bigger than ours.”

Visit the following web and YouTube videos for images of the LAAB Architects project:

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