Is architecture art? That question is something that probably first emerged with the advent of temples and religious buildings of various sizes and purposes. Over the millennia, architecture has evolved from creating places of worship and gathering to private residences. After all, who would not prefer a home designed by a brilliant and artistic architect rather than something done purely on a utilitarian basis?
Of course, public spaces are not always neglected; sometimes they are even rediscovered. Famed architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron reimagined Swiss railway switching stations, turning staid utility buildings into something resembling modern art. Meanwhile, new art galleries and museums of art are taking on the characteristics of gigantic objets d’art. The much maligned and delayed M+ museum has striking qualities that are still largely unknown to the Hong Kong public. The main vertical portion of the building is actually meant to serve as a computerised visual screen.
One of the lead designers on this museum and on many other normal sights in Hong Kong is Sir Terry Farrell, who is our cover story this issue. Sir Terry eschews some of the more vainglorious trappings of big-name architects – the label ‘starchitect’ is among them. What Sir Terry enjoys is bringing together modernist and classical elements together. As a boy, Sir Terry was fascinated by drawing and enjoyed art, but always felt that he wanted something more – something functional as well as artistic. The many creations of Sir Terry Farrell in Hong Kong are a testament to that.
Art also offers a way to distinguish a building and its occupants. This theme is drawn out in our two main features this issue. Brandon Zatt takes us on a tour of the personalities and plans for the forthcoming Shekou Design Museum, jointly run by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, to open next year in Shenzhen. That city has taken great pains to become much more than a manufacturer of cheap goods, building up everything from its finance and banking industry to the representation of art in the community. The new museum is even thought of as something of a rival to Hong Kong’s M+.
Meanwhile, Sophie Kalkreuth takes us on a tour of luxury property developers in the US and the UK who are finding new ways to incorporate art into their luxury projects. From sculptures by big name artists, to creating artist-inresidence programmes on site, luxury properties are becoming places of art as much as places of amenity and comfort.
We also have a interview this issue with George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, a design duo that have spent the last 35 years building a name for themselves as the “go-to” interior designers for luxury homes, hotels and restaurants. In a special Q&A with The Peak, they reveal their thoughts on creativity, art and design.
Here in Hong Kong, property developers like Sino Land and New World have taken these lessons firmly on board. In addition to the architecture, they are adding the art.