Firm name: New Office Works
Location: Hong Kong
Year founded: 2017
Firm leadership: Evelyn Ting, AIA, and Paul Tse, AIA
Firm size: 6
Firm mission: We founded New Office Works to make architecture that builds upon the vocabulary accumulated “then” while satisfying the needs and desires of “now.”
Education: Ting: M.Arch. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BA from Columbia University. Tse: MSAAD from Columbia University; B.Arch. and M.Arch. from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
Experience: Ting: Knox Bhavan Architects in London; Ensamble Studio in Madrid; Approach Architecture Studio and MAD in Beijing; lecturer at the University of Hong Kong. Tse: Adjaye Associates in London; SOM and OMA in New York; and MAD in Beijing; adjunct assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
How founders met: Working in Beijing
When did you decide to become architects? Ting: First year of college. I was intrigued by the relationship between architecture and sociology, and the notion of how space can influence people’s behavior. Tse: I grew up in a large building that, in addition to apartments, contained restaurants, supermarkets, clinics, an arcade, a drawing studio, etc. The idea of being able to design such a universe instilled in me a deep fascination in architecture.
First commission: A restaurant in Manila, Philippines
Most important project and why: Growing Up, a pavilion located on the waterfront in Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural District, which is a large arts and culture district that has been over 20 years in the making. In 2017, a competition was launched to build a pavilion there. Given the scarcity of these competitions and the significance of the site both culturally and politically, it attracted many participants. The pavilion was our first free-standing built structure. We wanted to keep the overall form simple while drawing references to the area's unique urban vocabularies.
Another important project and why: Middle Man Hong Kong, our research project that consists of 12 videos examining the city’s various architectural and urban elements. We worked on this project in parallel with the West Kowloon pavilion competition, meaning that lots of ideas and observations about the city informed the design process.
Which architects/firms have influenced your studio and how? Ting: I’ve always had a strong belief that the production of architecture is more than just building. I worked as an editorial intern at Log and a researcher at Volume, two New York-based magazines, so the critical and editorial aspects of writing are an instrumental part of our studio. Tse: Mostly teachers and mentors I was fortunate to encounter—being a student of Shohei Shigamatsu; teaching with Kersten Geers; working with David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA, and Ma Yansong. They are all very different, but share an intense dedication to their work.
Design tool of choice: Physical models, long talks, and long walks
Biggest challenge in running a successful practice: Survival, both in the financial and creative senses. The character of the practice is defined by how one survives.