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Foster + Part­ners trans­forms a 1960s Hong Kong icon

Wallpaper - - March - Pho­tog­ra­phy: Hosh­ing MOK Writer: tf Chan

Few lo­ca­tions in Hong Kong bet­ter cap­ture the spirit of mod­ernism than the Mur­ray Build­ing. Built by Bri­tish ar­chi­tect Ron Phillips, the 27-storey tower opened in 1969 as a gov­ern­ment of­fice. Soar­ing, un­adorned arches at ground level and a gleam­ing white façade lent it a hand­some, al­most aus­tere, ap­pear­ance, while re­cessed win­dows and the con­crete fins that sep­a­rated them kept out the swel­ter­ing heat, and made the build­ing a pi­o­neer in sus­tain­abil­ity. As such, it re­mained a widely ad­mired land­mark long after a con­crete jun­gle sprouted in its vicin­ity. And once the gov­ern­ment moved on to newer digs in 2011, it be­came a ripe op­por­tu­nity for re­de­vel­op­ment. En­ter lo­cal hospi­tal­ity group Wharf Ho­tels, which ac­quired the build­ing and en­listed Foster + Part­ners to trans­form it into firstrate ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Named the Mur­ray, the new ho­tel opened to much fan­fare ear­lier this year, its 336 rooms and suites some of the most spa­cious in the city. The fa­mous re­cessed win­dows have been en­larged, open­ing up views of Hong Kong Park and its ad­ja­cent zoo­log­i­cal gar­dens, as well as neigh­bour­ing sky­scrapers such as the HSBC Build­ing, also by Foster + Part­ners. In­side, richly tex­tured fur­nish­ings in un­der­stated tones, and bath­rooms in black and white Cala­catta mar­ble, are a vi­sion of re­laxed re­fine­ment. The pared-back aes­thetic con­tin­ues through the well-ap­pointed gym, in­door pool and five spa suites.

Ea­ger for guests to ‘re­dis­cover the ro­mance of go­ing to a ho­tel’, Foster + Part­ners de­voted spe­cial at­ten­tion to the ar­rival ex­pe­ri­ence, cre­at­ing a fore­court around a ma­jes­tic old cot­ton tree (care­fully sus­tained through the ho­tel’s con­struc­tion), and a gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned, sun­lit lobby fea­tur­ing a chan­de­lier-like char­coal work by Korean artist Seon-ghi Bahk. A grand stair­case leads guests to the gar­den level, home to a lush ter­race and two restau­rants – the smart Euro­pean Tai Pan, and the more laid­back Gar­den Lounge, which of­fers both dim sum and French patisserie.

The next few months will see more dining op­tions open. Oc­cu­py­ing its own glass pav­il­ion will be a branch of Miche­lin­starred Can­tonese restau­rant Guo Fu Lou, with in­te­ri­ors by An­dré Fu and an ex­pan­sive ter­race. And the rooftop restau­rant and bar, serv­ing cock­tails and in­ter­na­tional tapas, will be the per­fect spot to rub shoul­ders with Hong Kong’s movers and shak­ers, while drink­ing in the spec­tac­u­lar sky­line. ∂ 22 Cot­ton Tree Drive, the­mur­rayan­ic­colo­ho­tel. com. Rates: from HKD4,000 (£366)

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