In Between Walls

by Charlene Chan

 Photography by Jovian Lim

Photography by Jovian Lim

Richard Hassell, co-founder of WOHA, discusses the exchange that happens between art and architecture, and sustainability as a necessary state of mind.


“We’re hoping to leave the world a better place than we found it...sometimes with development that is difficult because you’re always squashing something with a big building,” Richard says, chuckling. Our conversation takes place in WOHA’s office along HongKong Street, in a space I’m immediately drawn to for its enviable collection of books. They fill the floor-to-ceiling shelves, interrupted only by the occasional scale model and a series of wooden stools, stone vases and artefacts Richard and co-founder Wong Mun Summ have gathered from around the world.

In the centre of the complex, a green column stretches across all five floors of the building. Its walls are covered with epiphytes—plants that grow on other plants for support—and each level is separated by nothing more than tension wire. Richard explains that the column was constructed primarily to facilitate interaction across the different floors: “When people are on different levels, they don’t really see each other, and they tend to not talk to each other, which is not good for the office.” 10 years on, the vertical garden has grown into itself, a living, breathing creature at the heart of the compound.

 

Read more from the Design Dialogue Document.

Photography by WOHA