Kevin Cheung's design studio visit at Blue House, Hong Kong

Posted on June 5, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

blue house

 

I have been writing a lot about Hong Kong's heritage lately, and coincidentally when I contacted Kevin Cheung, a local upcycling designer, he invited me to meet him at his home studio, which is also located inside a heritage building: the Grade I listed Blue House in Wan Chai.

The Blue House Cluster consists of three interconnected buildings: Blue House, Yellow House, and Orange House. The revitalisation project was part of a HK$100 million plan by the Government to preserve nine Chinese-style buildings in Wan Chai built during the 1920s. Conservation architect CM Lee and LWK & Partners Architects were commissioned to renovate the Blue House. Unlike other heritage projects in Hong Kong, this people-led heritage conservation project focuses on revitalising community relationships and developing a community-oriented and sustainable economy. Former residents were also invited to move back in. Opened in 2016, the project was rewarded the Award of Excellence in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation 2017.

 

blue house hk

blue house hk  blue house hk

Before the renovation

 

The Blue House is a four-storey Lingnan-style house built in 1922 with a mixture of Chinese and Western architectural features. The distinctive blue colour was not a deliberate aesthetic decision — the decorators only had blue paint, so a blue house it became. In the 1950s and 1960s, kung fu master Wong Fei-hung’s student Lam Sai-wing and his nephew launched their kung fu studio here.

 

blue house

blue house  blue house 

blue house  blue house

 

The ground floor shop now houses the Hong Kong House of Stories, which aims to preserve the neighbourhood's heritage and promote local culture through community art and activities. Free guided tours of the Blue House are also available on Saturdays.

 

blue house

blue house  blue house

 

At the Blue House, a co-living membership scheme 'Good Neighbour' was launched to create a sustainable community and preserve the lifestyle of the traditional Tong Lau (where community spirit was key). Out of the 32 units, 11 flats are available for rental provided the tenants are willing to contribue towards building a community, sharing their life experiences and skills, and collaborate with their neighbours to create a supportive and responsible environment for all. To be honest, I was very surprised to learn that this type of co-living scheme exists in Hong Kong – I applaud the implementers for this forward-thinking plan.

 

kevin cheung's studio  kevin cheung's studio

kevin cheung's studio

kevin cheung's studio  kevin cheung's studio

 

Kevin's home studio is located on the 2nd floor at the back of the Blue House complex. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by his friendly parrot. His studio is bright with big colonial-style windows and high ceiling where he has hung a few rows of illuminated bottles made from waste PET bottles. When I looked around his studio, I could see all sorts of upcycled products including another set of LED lighing made from old bicycle rims, speaker systems and guitar made from waste plastic containers, document bags made from leftover felt carpets collected from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and wallets made from wallpaper samples etc.

 

kevin cheung's studio  kevin cheung's studio 

kevin cheung's studio

kevin cheung's studio  kevin cheung's studio

 

Kevin is a very open and friendly guy, and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to him. Although we agreed that it is almost impossible to be completely waste-free and carbon-free, but we can still strive towards that goal. For years, Kevin has been experimenting with waste materials and has collaborated with different NGOs and traditional craftsmen to produce upcycled products locally. He also spent one month staying at Japan's zero-waste village, Kamikatsu, to learn from the villagers on how to recycle, and eliminate the use of landfills and incinerators. As his contribution to the building's 'good neighbour scheme', he volunteered to take over the recycling scheme at the Blue House, and runs upcycling workshops for residents and the public to tackle the waste issue in Hong Kong.

 

kevin cheung

rice bells

rice bell  kevin cheung's studio

 

Like Kevin, I firmly believe that designers, manufacturers and shop owners have the responsibility to create positive changes and change the world for the better. A consumption-driven society is not sustainable, and we have to be more aware of our actions.

I think Kevin's works are creative, interesting and fun; I particularly like his upcycled rice bells that are made out of aluminium waste from discarded rice cookers. Since rice cooker is a ubiquitous household appliance in Hong Kong, I doubt he will ever run out of material. Working with a local metal craftsman, the rice bowl is flattened first, and then pressed into dome shapes, followed by trimming, assembling and coating. Each bell is unique and has different patterns/colours/characteristics.

His first upcycled design, Boombottle is a speaker system made from a waste plastic container. The plastic bottle is air sealed, waterproof and rugged, yet has a large internal volume, making it a nice speaker enclosure. The speaker is also portable, and glows in the dark due to the LED light inside. I bought a smaller boombottle lite, which I think would work well with my computer as a desk speaker. It is not Bose, but at least I know that I am supporting a good cause, which is important to me.

 

kevin cheung's speaker

Boombottle Lite speaker

 

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This post was posted in Hong Kong, Architecture, Eco designs, Eco living & sustainability, Social issues, Hong Kong design, Architectural conservation, Designers & artists, Design, sustainability, upcycled design and was tagged with eco living, Hong Kong design, Colonial architecture, Architectural conservation, Kevin Cheung, Blue House, tong lau, upcycled design, eco

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