What: Ultimate Ice Pavilion

Who: Mathew Lui,partner at HBA Hong Kong.An industry veteran with over 20 years' experience in the hospitality design industry,Lui has accomplished numerous reputable hotels and hospitality designs in the Southeast Asia region. His portfolio includes the JW Marriot hotels in Chengdu and Shenyang, Taiwan's Taipei Green Lake Residential Development, and Hong Kong's The Austin & The Grand Austin Residential. Lui's style reflects his extensive exposure to the unique surroundings of Southeast Asia and other parts of the globe, and his contemporary designscontain historical elements of both Western and Asian design.


Architect and interior designer Mathew Lui has taken cool to a whole new level.

When the partner of architectural firm HBA Hong Kong first showed us his designs for STYLE's ultimate ice pavilion, we were surprised.

Say the words "ice room" and scenes from the Disney hit Frozen come to mind: we had expected a cool blue palette, ice sculptures and perhaps some faux-fur to give the space some warmth.

Lui and his team, however, steered away from the obvious and presented us with a cosy pavilion featuring a warm palette, an abundance of light and plush furnishings.

What makes Lui's intricate design an ice pavilion? The designer and his team built the entire space around an ice block.

The ice cube is used as a "curtain material wall", Lui explains. The private pavilion is a space where users can experience a sense of privacy against the backdrop of "a shimmering ice block wall."

Lui says he was inspired by the beautiful landscape in the northern part of Asia.

"My idea was to create a bath house where people can enjoy the view during all seasons, and have an exceptional experience in winter with a cosy and unexpected ambience in a liveable space," he says.

The mastermind behind the look and feel of many leading hotels around the world, Lui has a good idea about what makes people truly relax, and much of it has to do with the art of slow living, something he didn't appreciate until recently.

"I started to understand why people wanted to live slower much later in life," the industry veteran says. "Indeed, you have more time to appreciate things around you."

In this ice pavilion, he creates an unmistakably leisurely ambience by balancing the notion of a winter wonderland with an environment that has special, luxurious touches, such as a fireplace and heated floorboards.

A fireplace might seem odd in an ice room, but Lui says: "The fireplace and heated floor provide more functions than merely [creating] a cosy ambience."

As comfort is of paramount importance, Lui says: "We don't want people [to have to] wear down jackets [every time they are] in the ice pavilion."

The designer admits that balancing liveability and having an ice box as the centrepiece was one of the most challenging aspects of the design.

Lui uses a liquid cool plate inside a metal post to keep the ice block at a low temperature to prevent it from melting.

The pavilion itself is constructed with stone slabs and has a floor-heating system to keep guests warm and cosy.

The abstract lighting throughout the space is arguably the pavilion's standout feature.

"Polar lights are one of the inspirations for the lighting and the key to making the pavilion edgy and cool," Lui says. The lighting strikes against the use of minimalistic furniture. Lui purposely chose not to include any art pieces in the space. "I feel that the pavilion itself is a work of art," he says.

The pavilion comes with a bathroom, changing room and relaxing area.

Each section is near to the ice block so that users can experience the ice curtain wall everywhere.

Technology also plays a key role in the design.

"The fireplace, floor-heating system and speakers are all controlled via the user's smartphone, and the water comes from a natural hot spring," Lui says.

Essentially, Lui and his team have designed the perfect getaway where technology meets art and nature.

And where does Lui see himself relaxing in his uber-chic ice pavilion?

"It would have to be the tub with skylight, where you can enjoy the clear blue sky [during the day] or the starry sky at night," Lui explains.

"For me, relaxing and meditating while taking a bath after a long day is the perfect experience."