St George’s Bldg ( 聖佐治大廈 )
Allied Properties Ltd
No. 81 Waterloo Road, Kowloon
Developed by Allied Group, and designed by Ma Leung Associates, the new St. Georges apartment complex represents a refreshingly new design approach towards private residential high-rises in Hong Kong.
Like much of all residential developments in Hong Kong, designers and developers sought to distinct their buildings through ever more elaborate ornamentations in attempts to beautify and awe prospective buyers. More than often, we see excessive and exasperating use of so called 'post-modernist neo-classical' treatments on buildings, regardless of need or relevancy. Such compulsiveness to 'dress up' buildings and to use the same deadening formula over and over again, often hampers the design outcome in the expense for perceived property value.
The partnership between Ma Leung Associates and Allied Group marking a departure from this thinking, sought for a more restrained and elegant approach with St Georges Building on Waterloo Road. Mr. T.C. Yuen, Design Director at MLA, stated his major concern for St. Georges was to soften the building's visual impact due to its size in a predominantly low rise neighborhood. As a result, the design adopted a sleek vocabulary which blended low key simplicity with elegance and comfort. Shed of tiresome decorative features, the focus was on developing a cohesive form to unify the various distinctive elements.
The first element is the split floor plan design, detaching the living units from the service core. By distributing the four units away from the core and each other, common walls were minimized to attain maximum visual and acoustic privacy. By tilting each unit slightly away from the central axis, each unit enjoys a uniquely prestigious view of the Kadoorie Hill area and Victoria Harbor. The configuration of the four units conceals the core on all four elevations, conveying a sense of cohesion by smoothing the edges and the side facades. The curtain glass wall interlocks the fours sides, further enforcing the overall unity.
The second element being the 5 storey podium was more challenging to blend. Housing a multi-storey car park facility and a clubhouse with full amenities, the sheer size of the podium threatened to break the verticality and countering efforts to achieve an overall sense of cohesion. To dealing with this, MLA proposed concealing the car park stories with a Shoji glass box, relating it materially to the rest of the glass tower, yet giving it distinction through daytime translucency and nighttime backlight. The G/F Shoji glass box coupled with the roof top light box when lit up at night, balanced the poles, while the intermediate floors lit up with occupation. By introducing the strong vertical gap on the front façade, the podium is also tied with the tower above.
Curtain glass walls are a rarity among residential constructions in Hong Kong, mainly due to perception and a lack of understanding in its benefits. MLA, well versed in their expertise in curtain glass wall constructions, used this to break the predictable repetitious layout for this residential development. They downplayed the unavoidable repetitiveness of residential designs, by redefining the exterior in multitudes of layers, wrapping and binding the building together. The curtain glass wall design successfully negotiates the fine line between achieving an interesting exterior forms, as oppose to settling for its repetitiveness. At first glance, it is hard to identify the location of the various units and functional spaces, straddling between what is recognizable and what is not.
With eighty-eight apartments, the development offers three (1.389 sq ft) and five (1,665 sq ft) bedroom apartments, as well as duplexes (3,000 sq ft) on the upper levels. Prospective buyers and architectural enthusiast should find a visit to this building refreshing and interesting.