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Annette Chu Architecture

The "Off-White House" was designed by Annette Chu of Chu Design Architects in Hong Kong. Annette studied architecture at Cambridge University and the Architectural Association, London. After obtaining her Diploma in 2003, she worked at MDMA in Brussels where she took part in various projects, including theatre, private houses and housing complexes. After studying and working in Europe for a decade, Annette returned to Hong Kong in 2007 and set up her design studio CHU Design. Through her practice, she continues her interests in exploring another spatial narration and its effects on design language.

This project involved a complete renovation of a three-story house in Hong Kong. "Off" implies a departure from the familiar, creating something unfamiliar. The design seeks to search for a new spatial language that negotiates with the existing envelope which remains intact. It is expressed in white. White suggests the canvas, the backdrop. Timer wall panels form the center of the house - the client's study. Conceptually, it is a control box. It is also the hub where all the audio and visual display are generated and transmitted.

Solid acrylic rods are used to form the walls of the study, letting light into the study. When in operation, lights are emitted from inside. The solid acrylic rods create multiple distorted views, resulting in privacy as well as mystery. The timber core unwraps and extends upwards into the master bedroom hallway, and downwards to the floor below to form the slightly inclined ceiling in the living room.  What really caught our attention are the beautiful white floors. The super minimal modern white floor was poured on site by Senso from the Netherlands.  A beautiful minimal white!

As part of the renovation project, the first move was to swap the dining area with the living area in order to maximize the most valuable view of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour. The first prop was introduced: a revolving dining area to allow all guests to enjoy the view. The stage effect is further enhanced by a ceiling of acrylic profiles. Practically hiding the air grilles, this feature produces scenes of varying lighting conditions, from one small intimate suspended light, to an evenly distributed bright daylight environment.

The second prop was the free-standing staircase. It is installed with a sound system to form a 'big harp'. One touch by the client on the suspended wire of the harp will initiate a song. And only he knows where the trigger is. This idea of play further defines the other props, including the concealed service zone, painted in fuchsia, concealed behind a corrugated white wall, the hidden colorful bar and the mirror sliding shoes cabinet. Hence the "Off-White House" s not just above living, but also about staging pleasant surprises.