Window & Facades

Buildings, as the largest users of energy, are also our greatest opportunity for energy conservation and protection of the environment. The rapidly growing energy needs have raised global concerns over continued depletion of energy resources and their negative impact on the environment. The façade is one of the most significant contributors to the energy conservation and comfort parameters of any building. Strategies and technologies that allow us to maintain our satisfaction with the interior environment while consuming fewer of the resources have always been the major objectives for contemporary façade design. A well designed façade can effectively control the physical environmental factors such as heat, light and sound, thus improve the occupant comfort within a building. The location and climate are crucial factors in selecting appropriate façade materials and deciding on the design strategies for sustainable facades. The cover story of this edition focuses on the various approaches for designing sustainable facades for the future, which are high performing, comfortable, safe, at the same time aesthetic. It also discusses emerging façade technologies, and advanced, smart materials for facades, describing their properties and …

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20 Anniversary Book

Written by Paul McGillick
Edited: HB Design Pte Ltd
Published by Tuttle Publishing Pte Ltd
now available on Amazon



In HB Design’s newly launched monograph, accompanying the usual project descriptions and drawn, photographed, or rendered imagery are quotes – floating, unattributed quotes, such as the ones above – coming, presumably, from HB Design’s founder Hans Brouwer.

That the architect’s voice is ever present through the pages is interesting. What is the point of the monograph, if not for a practice to express its ideas directly, and in its own terms?

A monographic volume can voice many things. It can present ideas, projects, the preoccupations of a practice; it can be a manifesto that sets down philosophies and ethos; it can market and promote a practice’s best achievements. In effect, it is a useful tool for communication – and communication, as the reader of this monograph will learn, is an important and fundamental underpinning of HB Design.

After eight years of working at Foster & Partners, Hans Brouwer started HB Design in Hong Kong in 1995 with Anthony Wang, a friend and fellow graduate from the architecture school of University of Southern California. In the first chapter, Stepping Stones: Hong Kong 1995 – 1998, Paul McGillick writes: ‘While the background at Fosters clearly lent credibility, the real value of the time at Foster & Partners proved to be lessons learned from Sir Norman’s ability to communicate an approach, which distils a design concept into clearly formulated strategies the can be easily adhered to. Hans adopted three key principles: approach, process, buildability…

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Amongst a modest collection of ageing, nondescript, reinforced concrete structures and mix of neo-classical and Romanesque traces of French colonial rule, a bifurcated aluminium cuboid stands out distinctly from amongst its surroundings. The building’s ambition to be recognised as a modern development in Ho Chi Minh’s District 1 is clear – its reddish-brown aluminium panels contrast starkly with patinated white concrete, while its horizontally-striated facade of profiled louvres differentiate themselves from solid masonry.

Considered by architect Hans Brouwer to be a “boutique development”, President Place is a project of client David Clarkin of Sapphire Vietnam, an expanding property development company. The building comprises mainly of offices, but also includes a restaurant and sky garden. “The [client’s] brief was quite simple – maximise leasable area. There was little by way of form, material or style directives,” Brouwer explains. “Our goal was to create a building that would …

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The goal of the architect is not to give what the client wants but to show the client what he never dreamed he could have,” decrees Hans Brouwer, founder of HB Design as he extols on the virtues of the profession. This mantra has been his driving force for nearly 25 years in the design industry as an architect and progressively leading his team.

Brouwer is still as passionate about what he does. “I’m constantly seeking renewal, innovation, exploration of space, materiality and longevity of structures:’ says Brouwer, who sets exacting standards when it comes to a project. “Architecture is a profession that doesn’t end with the shell of the building but includes the interiqrs too:’ Brouwer says that growing up in boarding schools in Switzerland followed by periods in Italy as a student surrounded by architecture of monumental proportions has had a major impact on his mind-set. “In Europe, people take their time to design and build a building but the structure remains relevant and enjoyed for decades;’ says Brouwer, who worked with Britain’s most lauded architect, Sir Norman Foster for eight years before starting HB design in 1995. Some of his notable works under the wings of Foster and Partners includes the Century Towers in Tokyo and the Commerzbank in Frankfurt both of which introduces innovative high-rise technology on many levels. Consequently, his restrained yet warm brand of modernity projects age-old ideals: authority, functionality, and a Modernist appreciation of how natural light enriches such honest, straightforward materials as polished wood, brick, glass and steel.

Having made Singapore his home, he finds the Asian mindset fickle but also”fertile and keen to evolve” which leaves a lot of room for improvement in areas of implementing sustainable design. “In Asia, buildings are like disposable items, when each get an overhaul every 10 years;’laments the father of two young children. These days, a majority of Brouwer’s work are largely centered in Asia. Whether the commission is a luxury…

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MGS Architecture India

Ar. Hans Brouwer has started HB Design Pte Ltd in 2004 as a single-man practice, has today, grown to a 40 man practice with projects in 9 countries. The firm, strongly feels that the real foundations of design lie in the combination of vision, sound problem-solving structure and the ability to create exceptional spatial experiences. The key thing, it believes, is to have the right intention – that is to try to be as responsible and efficient with its resources and the way its structures are used. “We entered into the Indian periphery in 2008 and since then worked on number of projects here. We see this country as a long-term growth market and are keen to be involved with visionary clients with intentions of creating exceptional architecture,” saysAr. Hans Brouwer, Founder, HB Design Pte Ltd in an interview with Maria R.

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Interview: Hans Brouwer, leading architect

“Architecture is a tough profession. The economics are getting tougher and the markets that are currently really active, the BRICS [the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa], are extremely competitive.”

That’s the opening gambit from one of Asia’s leading architects, 52-year-old Hans Brouwer. However, despite the fairly jaundiced outlook, and the fact that this is a man who has experienced the hell of bankruptcy, he appears happy and relaxed when we meet.

Last year, one of his designs, The River, a 265-metre-high masterpiece, won Best Luxury Condo development at the Thailand Property Awards, and in the last 10 years Hans has been steadily racking up the plaudits. His work has graced the front cover of Wallpaper magazine, and his company, HB Design, now has three offices in Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket. They have 20 skyscrapers under construction or due to begin imminently in India, totalling over 13 million square feet of saleable area.

No wonder he’s happy and relaxed, then; despite a hectic schedule, Hans’s company is going from strength to strength.

Fruitful beginnings

Born to a Thai mother and a Dutch father living in Hong Kong, Hans was schooled in Switzerland and opted to begin his university years there. He then transferred to the University of Southern California for the remainder of his degree

“Architecture just seemed the most interesting thing to do. I was really good at geometry, maths and physics, especially 3D geometry,” he tells me.

“After almost dropping out in my first year, I needed to catch up. I learnt that …

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Property Report #105

In today’s ‘global village’, travel is ubiquitous, a fact of modern life, available to the masses and accessible to a far greater spectrum of society than ever before.

Myself and my fellow designers now boast a client base that has seen top-end real estate in world class cities. They have stayed at five star hotels and resorts in the sorts of destinations highlighted by luxury travel magazines, so the bar on expectations has been raised. What was ‘good enough’ yesterday isn’t today.

This is good news for the design industry, because it puts a premium on quality design – the upper end of the market appreciates stylish, luxurious and functional design and is willing to pay extra for it. But just what constitutes good design? ‘Good design’ is an ephemeral term and one that demands to be defined.

The modernist architect Louis Kahn once wrote: “I believe that in architecture, as in all art, the artist instinctively keeps the marks which reveal how a thing was done.’’ I’m a firm believer that design should not be reduced to style, likes or dislikes. Design is the business of matching meaningful form to the complexities of project parameters: site, orientation, brief, budget, market demands and more. Arriving at the most appropriate solution should be process driven.

Too often, design is seen by non- architects as a moment of divine inspiration, whereas in reality, good design is very Darwinian in its progress – that is to say that it evolves over a series of stages. Many ideas are explored, and many, needless to say, end up on….

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Sustainable Green Architecture India

Despite its considerable public relations problems — an overwhelmed bureaucracy, widespread corruption, well-documented violence against women and massive inequality among other pressing issues — investors are forging ahead in India. The country’s property market is robust and the construction boom is underpinning markets in other parts of the world due to a trickle down in demand for resources: think Perth’s property growth on the back of the regional mining industry.

Jones Lang LaSalle India’s review of Indian residential property in 2012 stated that Mumbai’s residential section started to pick up after almost two years of relative sluggishness, driven largely by increasing demand and stable pricing. Capital values grew between 9 and 10 percent. “The increased demand for residential units came from robust commercial office market activity in south central Mumbai. Also, these sub- markets benefited from more attractive pricing when compared to premium addresses of South Mumbai,” explained Ramesh Nair, Managing Director for West, Jones Lang LaSalle India. Nair predicted 2013 would see more project launches, particularly in Mumbai where demand is strongest.

So India is a major mover and shaker on the investment front, but investors are well known to be increasingly choosy about where they live and/or work. Here in Hong Kong, commercial developers will admit to making sure their buildings stand up to global sustainability standards or run the risk of losing blue chip tenants to other properties. The same holds for residences, where more and more owner-occupiers and tenants alike want a better building. Given India’s perceived lack of organisation and considerably bigger fish to fry (general housing stresses make Hong Kong’s look like a minor inconvenience) how is it possible the country can be a green leader?

India is the world’s largest democracy and has one of the worst track records in …

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