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Realizing twist on the hill - The design implementation of Opus Hong Kong

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The April meeting was held at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club on 16 April 2013.The presentation entitled "Realizing twist on the hill - The design implementation of Opus Hong Kong was delivered by Mr. Charles Mui, Project Manager of Swire Properties Limited.The 12-storey Opus Hong Kong, a residential project developed by Swire Properties, was completed in 2012.Charles was well placed to deliver such an interesting talk, which was attended by 83 members and guests.

Charles Mui is an engineer, by background.He has 14 years of experience in building design and construction.He had worked at SOM Chicago before he moved back to Asia and worked on projects in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Hong Kong.He joined Swire Properties in 2007 and worked on residential projects in Mid-Levels West and Opus Hong Kong.

The Opus project was designed by Frank Gehry.He is one of the worlds most sought-after architects, winning distinguished awards such as the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the RIBA Gold Medal.Gehrys previous designs include the Guggenheim Museum in Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Opus Hong Kong is Gehrys first residential project in Asia.

Located at 53 Stubbs Road on the Peak, the site area of Opus Hong Kong is 32,500 square feet with a plot ratio of 2.1.The building offers a view of the city and Victoria Harbor.It comprises 10 luxury residential apartments and two double-level garden apartments with private swimming pools, ranging from 6,000 to 6,900 square feet one unit per floor with access to roof-top swimming pools.A 6,200-square-foot apartment, taking up the entire eighth floor, was sold for a record-breaking price of HK$470 million in August 2012.

Charles focused on the design process of Gehry Partners, physical models, 3D computer model (BIM), procurement and construction management.Regarding the design concept, all 12 units feature a spiraling series of curving facades. Pre-cast facades offset at every floor and sloping at 00 , 20 and 30 , and none of the facades is typical.There are glass column claddings. Every unit is non-typical in its design and layout throughout the building.A full-scale mock up using actual steel columns and window glass claddings, and ultra-advanced computer technology was built to explore both the functional and sculptural aspects of the project. BIM shop drawings were prepared for the stone works, pre-cast faade, shingles, column claddings, hard landscape elements, etc.The design model, priced at HK$10 million, also helped a lot of building layout, the selection of finishes and material testing.Procurement of different elements and construction materials were also discussed.The inspection of a full color range of stones (stone works of 10,000 m2) was conducted in a quarry in Spain.Multiple workshops were held with architects, engineers and the local teams in Los Angeles during the course of the project.

Opus Hong Kong is designed to be a green building.Natural cross ventilation is promoted. Trees are planted on roads and pool sides. Other green features include the Home Automation System, Lighting Navigation System, solar shading, photo / CO2 sensors, rainwater recycling tanks, etc.

Charles also shared the challenges with designer/contractors during construction.At the meeting, he disclosed that despite the non-uniform design the project was completed on time.However, the construction costs of Opus Hong Kong doubled those of the uniform-design ones.This high-end residential building had a bigger premium for the third party liability during construction.The challenges stated by Charles were the approval seeking from the Planning Department, Lands Department and Buildings Department.The most challenges were the design of the glass column claddings and design changes in the course of the project.When asked if he would manage other similar non-uniform buildings, Charless answer was positive on the understanding that Swire Properties were emphasizing quality at all time.From the commercial point of view, Frank Gehry, a quiet man, could sell more, according to Charles.


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