The AIRSIDE building has been crafted by Snøhetta, an internationally acclaimed architecture and design firm born in Oslo in 1987, is renowned for their unique interpretations of architecture and the surrounding environment. Their design was inspired by the intense fusion of natural elements, historic structure, and contemporary urban spaces in Hong Kong.
We spoke to Ricardo Sousa about how Snøhetta’s approach aligned with AIRSIDE’s principles of wholeness. We looked at the architect’s commitment to using building materials that achieve the best in quality in a considered way. And we heard about the role architecture plays in building a community that’s both interdependent and environmentally conscious
How do you give a building an identity?
During the design process, we build a story. This is a big structure and a neighbourhood in its own right, so it needs to respect its surroundings. That’s why all the elements are built with real, natural materials to create a place with a cohesive feel.
What do you think makes a place meaningful?
Those who lived in Kai Tak had this very particular relationship to the old airport. It meant different things to different people and it still means a lot. Even now, there are tourist shops selling postcards and posters of commercial airliners from the 1980s landing at Kai Tak. With AIRSIDE, this identity is shifting. Together with Nan Fung, we are creating a building that will become the new identity of Kai Tak.
How did you create a sense of unity between the different elements at AIRSIDE?
We didn’t want separations between retail and office spaces, so when you enter the development you flow seamlessly from the office lobby to the retail area. There are no walls or changes of level and no doors you need to go through.
How do you think Snøhetta’s design philosophy informed your choice of materials?
With the landscape, we tried to use natural materials to add to the distinctive feeling of place. We also custom developed a textile for the interiors. The partners we work with have sustainability rooted in their values, resulting in something that’s both beautiful and easy to maintain.
Do you think it’s important for AIRSIDE to be somewhere that invites the landscape in?
Of all the places I’ve been in the world, Hong Kong is the best at combining the city and nature. At Central you’re a 20-minute walk from nature. You’re always at least visually connected with the landscape, forest and mountains. This is something that influenced our landscape design and choice of plant species. We want those elements to connect you to nature.
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