Creating Green & Happy Designs
Interview of Architect Vicky Chan, Avoid Obvious Architects Hong Kong / New York
As our name Avoid Obvious Architects (AOA) suggests, we find unique solutions to bring green smiles to everyone. Green & happy design is the core of our practice. We are also volunteering to teach local children about architecture & sustainable design.
With over 20 years of experience in architecture and urban planning, our team cares about people, history, and the environment. We add value to the most common situation by combining art, hedonistic thinking, context, build-ability, and science. AOA designs and gives back at the same time. We strive to work on non-profit projects to improve communities. Some of our on-going non-profit design works are: OneSky, a non-profit educational facility that provides responsive care and early education; K-Farm, the first urban farm in Hong Kong incorporating hydrophonics, aquaphonics and organic farming systems; Walk DVRC, an initiative that envisions a more walkable and liveable Central Business District. These all aim to make impact in the everyday lives of people in the environment towards sustainability.
One of the most distinctive projects in Hong Kong we have is the urban farm K-Farm. We are working with ROUGH, a non-profit organization, to fundraise their project and the process has been interesting. Design studios are not normally known to do this as part of a normal project process. I think this opportunity, coupled with the team’s collaborative spirit and brainstorming sessions with the parties involved in these projects, have made this a very fun learning process. We hope to carry what we have learned onto our future projects and in life in general
“By teaching children about architecture, sustainable design, urban planning, and efficient use of materials, they will get into the habit of thinking in those terms. We hope to change the world through volunteering and education.”
We see a lot of environmental problems to be the result of current politics. We believe our future will be brighter when our children are more equipped with sustainable, collaborative and creative thinking.
As part of a student group that volunteered to teach subjects like arts, math, and music to underprivileged groups back in college, I used my experience to refine these subjects to become architecturally specific. This has led to several schools to reach out to us. Also read http://realtyplusmag.com/defining-architectural-values-ushering-a-new-era/
Architecture for Children focuses on geometry, environmental problems, science, history, creative thinking and model buildings. Using interactive presentations, we teach children the concept of sustainable designs. Through trial and error, children discover the beauty of scientific experiments as they develop their creative and critical thinking.
Our volunteers come from multiple backgrounds with the desire to promote equity, access, ecology and sustainability. The goal is to give our children a full spectrum of architecture. Our study is a mixture of art, design, math, science, culture and history.
We now volunteer weekly in schools and developing a multilingual syllabus that can be used anywhere in the world for free. This architecture for children program has gained exposure in the United States, Germany and South Korea.
World becoming a Global Village
We think globally by learning from the distinctive cultures around the world. Having knowledge of different things help us associate things together that we would not have normally done so and this makes us innovative in thinking. Pairing this with local knowledge, we can come up with creative and unique ideas.
Working on various projects around the world needs different sensibilities as every context has its own unique problems that need unique solutions. Globalization has allowed us to work internally and externally with diverse sets of international teams in different cultures.
This has allowed us to address various matters in complex environments through collaboration and clear communication with members, clients, and the general public. We try our best to promote sustainable ideas to create happy cities and green buildings that are enjoyable for all while taking care of the environment on a local to global scale.
The Future Roadmap
We are aiming to grow our team to 20 people to remain competitive while still keeping an innovative culture in the studio where everyone still has a high level of involvement in the design process. We would like to commit ourselves more to spreading education about architecture. Hopefully, we can teach and influence future generations to think and move forward into creating a place where sustainability, nurturing the relationship between the living and the environment will be the top priority in their decision-making.