Hi-tech chic blends seamlessly with creature comforts in this light-filled Route Twisk apartment.
Living in a computer-controlled home is not just for techies - it can be fun for all the family. Just ask Ruby Ng, whose spacious 2,900 sq ft apartment proves that new technology can help bring about easy modern living.
Her home, which she shares with her husband and their two children, is designed to be intelligent enough to interact with its residents: sensor-controlled doors that open as you approach, curtains that glide shut at the push of a button, a sophisticated audio-visual system, plasma TVs wired into every room and a hi-tech lighting system that can create a variety of moods. All this and a streamlined futuristic decor to match.
The Ng family made the switch to hi-tech living when they bought two apartments adjacent to each other in a Tsuen Wan high-rise overlooking leafy Route Twisk.
They contacted architect Bun Ho of su:b design (tel: 6773 7292) and asked him to knock the units together to create one expansive home that could be controlled by a central computer system.
Ho set to work on what would prove to be one of the more challenging projects he has undertaken. His task was twofold: to manage the co-ordination and installation of the technology and create a fresh and forward-thinking design scheme that hid all traces of wiring, plug points, control boxes and other technological paraphernalia.
'The client wanted a very simple design without too much cabinetry,' explains Ho. 'But we needed to host these systems because all the elements had to be connected to the computer and that took a lot of wiring.'
He had to figure out how to run the cables invisibly from one side of the apartment to the other, which in turn affected the design scheme: 'In the end, the cables went under the floor, inside the walls and, in the case of the 65-inch plasma TV in the living room, we hid the control unit in the ceiling.'
Co-ordination was key for this project. 'We spent a long time co-ordinating with other parties because different elements were provided by different suppliers, from the audio-visual to the curtains to the lighting. Meeting after meeting was needed to address different parties' requirements and work out ways of connecting all the elements together and making it work as one system.'
The other side of the design equation was making the place work as a family home. Ho opened the space, knocking down the central wall between the flats to create one huge, light-filled living and dining area that benefits from a wall of windows and glass doors along the far end and two balconies.
A corridor down one side leads to the children's 'wing', which contains two bedrooms, a bathroom and a guest room. A corridor along the other side leads to the adults' quarters, which comprise a study, a master bedroom and an en suite bathroom (separated from the bedroom by a glass wall). The layout works well for the family. Says Ng: 'It gives us a lot of privacy because the kids play on the other side of the apartment and we can hardly hear them. They enjoy it too because we used to tell them to be quiet but now they can do whatever they want.' The sensor-controlled doors are also child-friendly because they slide open on approach, which is helpful when the children are running through the house.
The interior decor complements the hi-tech gadgetry. Ho imparted a light, bright, spacious and futuristic feel via a neutral backdrop that shimmers and shines. He used huge slabs of white marble for the living room floor and walls, limestone for the wall behind the TV and white oak on the floor and walls in the master bedroom. He then used flashes of colour - green, yellow, orange and red - to add energy to the space.
A key design element in the living-cum-dining room is a striking geometric feature wall at the rear that reflects light outwards from the space. 'Originally the client wanted some sort of mirror here,' says Ho, who came up with a reflective wall using assorted linear panels, some in mirrored glass, others in mirrored stainless steel.
Precise and carefully thought out, the wall echoes the design approach throughout the home, which is a savvy combination of space-age style and lots of home comforts. If this is 21st-century living, can we all have a try?
1 Bun Ho knocked two apartments into one to create a spacious living and dining area with two balconies. For the floor he used natural white marble slabs, from Po Kwong Stone (276 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 4688). He ran the marble up the wall for continuity. The 65-inch plasma television (Bang & Olufsen, G/F, AIA Plaza, 18 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, tel: 2890 8977; www.bang-olufsen. com) is hung on a wall clad with limestone; the wiring is hidden behind the wall, beneath the floor and above the ceiling. Wiring for the Beolab 5 Bang & Olufsen speakers runs under the floor. The glass-topped Bean dining table by Porro cost HK$36,000 from Desideri (6/F, Capitol Plaza, 2 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2950 4026; www.desideri.com.hk).
2 The mirror wall was custom designed by Ho using rectangular panels in mirrored glass and stainless steel. The back of the front door (on the left) is also mirrored. On the right, Ho designed wall cabinets using crystal back-painted white glass with alcoves, in which are displayed glass artworks. The cabinetry is almost invisible yet provides useful storage space. The green armchair and ottoman by Artifort cost HK$24,000 from Desideri.
3 The walls of the corridor leading to the children's rooms are clad in bleached oak wood. The floor is white marble (from Po Kwong Stone), adding to the sense of lightness. The pair of colourful geometric vases are from Lane Crawford (IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 3388; www.lanecrawford.com).
4 The study has been designed to be an 'island' encased in glass within the master suite. The middle wall contains cabinets for storage; on top of the cabinets is a glass panel that helps soundproof the study; there is also a glass peek-a-boo panel at the back. The Corian and bleached oak desk and shelving were designed by Ho; the Auckland chair by Cassina cost HK$33,480 from Anterra Collection (5 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2525 9874).
5 In the master bedroom, Ho used Boen white oak timber flooring from Equal (7/F, Grandview Commercial Centre, 29 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7066). Oak is also used to clad the wall. The wiring for the free-standing Bang & Olufsen TV runs through the bottom of the stand (designed by Ho to raise the set so the couple can watch it in bed) and into the floor. Extending over the bed is an anglepoise Kevin T wall light by Flos, which cost HK$1,908 from Desideri. The automated track for the curtains was supplied by Focal Pacific (unit 8B, Wah Ha Factory Building, 8 Shipyard Lane, Quarry Bay, tel: 2331 8178) and the curtain material is from Pacific Furnishings (26/F, Wyndham Place, 44 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2520 1270).
6 Ho designed an olive ash bunk bed with built-in aluminium wardrobes for Ruby Ng's son. The Boen Polar ash timber floor was supplied by Equal.
7 The raised open bathroom is separated from the bedroom area by a glass wall. Screens can be pulled down for privacy. The Baia Corian bathtub (HK$65,000) and the Pivot sink (HK$9,300) are by Antonio Lupi from Desideri.
8 A yellow glass shower door in the children's bathroom adds a dash of colour. The sinks were designed by Ho.
styling Esther van Wijck
tried & tested
To add drama to the space, architect Bun Ho subtly played with proportion and colour. Above the dining table, he hung four mirrored globe lights with solid reflective surfaces to echo the geometric mirror behind. For a visual twist, he installed three globes of the same size and a larger one. The Mirror Ball lights are by Tom Dixon (small: HK$2,600; large: HK$3,600) from Desideri. Similarly, he arranged seven white chairs and one yellow chair around the dining table. The Glove chairs are by Molteni and cost HK$5,500 each from Desideri.