Street Talk

HK Magazine - - UPFRONT -

Last year, NASA re­vealed a three-part plan to send hu­mans to live on Mars by 2030. As part of its Habi­tat Chal­lenge, the space agency asked ar­chi­tects to de­sign a liv­able habi­tat for as­tro­nauts to sur­vive for long pe­ri­ods on the planet. Hong Kong ar­chi­tect Sid­ney Tang was one of the top 30 fi­nal­ists with his “Mar­tian Domes” de­sign. He tells Is­abelle Hon about the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind it and his pas­sion for outer space.

HK Mag­a­zine: When did you be­come in­ter­ested in ar­chi­tec­ture?

Sid­ney Tang: When I was young I didn’t know I would be so into ar­chi­tec­ture. I just loved beau­ti­ful, del­i­cate things. I was bad at math, so I chose an art-re­lated sub­ject. I started to re­ally fall in love with ar­chi­tec­ture when I started study­ing it in univer­sity.

HK: How did you be­come in­volved in the NASA com­pe­ti­tion?

ST: At the very early stages, I just sent some pdfs and pro­pos­als of my dream house on Mars to NASA. I tried to be­come knowl­edge­able about space and then ap­ply a cool con­cept to my de­sign. The house I de­signed con­sists of sev­eral egg shapes; the rooms are all sep­a­rate so peo­ple can es­cape from one egg to an­other egg dur­ing an emer­gency. Of course, it would be made of spe­cific ma­te­ri­als that would be durable in space. Later, I cre­ated my de­sign us­ing 3D-print­ing and made it to the fi­nal round.

HK: What do you think helped you cre­ate a suc­cess­ful model?

ST: I love to ob­serve, and I love to learn about ev­ery­thing—I am a jack of all trades. Of course ev­ery­one has set­backs some­times, in­clud­ing me. I tried to ap­ply for so many jobs be­fore grad­u­at­ing— but I never got any replies. Once I went into a well­known ar­chi­tect’s firm try­ing to get an in­ter­view, and the as­sis­tant just told me to leave. Those ex­pe­ri­ences were hard to deal with, as I was still a stu­dent at that time. When­ever I got turned away I would write a note: “I will be back.” HK: Does any­one ever tell you your smile looks like Chow Yun-fat’s?

ST: Yes! Peo­ple have said I look like Chow Yun-fat since sec­ondary school. They all call me “Fat Gor.” But I think my boss likes my per­son­al­ity more— ap­pear­ance doesn’t di­rectly help me with my ca­reer, but it does make it eas­ier for peo­ple to rec­og­nize me. When I was in univer­sity, I al­ways sat in on other cour­ses be­sides my ma­jor, such as busi­ness and film me­dia. It was a big class but the pro­fes­sor still rec­og­nized me at first glance. We be­came good friends. I helped to de­sign the wood deck on his house.

HK: Does be­ing a NASA-rec­og­nized ar­chi­tect help you get girls?

ST: I am sin­gle, but I am not ex­pect­ing any­thing at the mo­ment. I think it will come if it comes.

HK: Any tips for res­i­dents of planet Earth?

ST: There are lim­ited re­sources on the planet right now, and we might have the chance to move to other plan­ets in the fu­ture. We re­ally have to trea­sure what we have now. Also, nowa­days Hong Kong seems di­vided into Yel­lows and Blues; I think peo­ple should try to make friends with each other and be more united.

What if one day we have to cope with aliens?

Check out Sid­ney’s de­sign at face­book.com/nasamar­tian­domes.

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