133 Wai Yip Street is MVRDV’s last exercise in transparency

Nothing but white walls, glass and steel.

HONG KONG – There it stands, in perfect MVRDV aesthetic, blending tetris-like with its colourful surroundings only to bring to mind Silodam, the Dutch firm’s first major building project in Amsterdam that was completed in 2003. This time though, the architects have left their signature in Hong Kong’s post-industrial East Kowloon district which is currently in a phase of urban redevelopment.

With the goal of ultimate transparency, an old office building has been stripped down to its bare bones – and pretty much left naked. The former building’s tiled concrete walls and tiny windows have been replaced by a glazed façade and the feeling of openness. On the inside, elevated glass floors and exposed cablework continues the transparent mission. The only additions to the primary structure are white paint, stainless steel and, most importantly, glass – glass everywhere. Elevators cladded in glass glide through the many floors and even the emergency exits are made from – what? – fire-resistant glass, of course. For extraordinarily glass-loving tenants there is an opportunity to purchase the custom-made interior design with glass shelves, tables and chairs.

This ode to glass is at the same time a goodbye to the material. After having championed alternative uses of glass with projects like the Glass Farm, Rotterdam’s Market Hall with 40-m-high window panels, developing glass bricks  for Chanel’s flagship store in Amsterdam and, most recently, advocating transparency in food with the Infinity Kitchen at the Architecture Biennale in Venice, 133 Wai Yip Street will be the last exercise in transparency for now.

Though, this is not the end. There are more materials to be explored, more problems to be solved, more innovation to be made. We are excited about MVRDV’s projects to come.

Photos Ossip van Duivenbode


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