Recognized as the first kinetic public architecture in Hong Kong, Harbour Kiosk’s cinematic transformation activates the surrounding public space while paying tributes to the action movies that the local film industry is famous for. Designed by LAAB Architects, Harbour Kiosk fits neatly into its natural surroundings at the Avenue of Stars, a promenade along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront that celebrates the Hong Kong film industry.
Inspired by the local market stalls in Hong Kong, which expand and engage with the public when they are open and return to their compact and secured form when they are closed, Harbour Kiosk automatically transforms its “gate” into “awning” during the day and returns to its compact shape at night. The 49 robotic arms behind the profiled timber fins magically perform the cinematic transformation. The wave generator system also moves the timber fins in waves throughout the day to resonate with harbor waves and to establish an emotional connection between the people, the architecture, and the surrounding nature.
The original brief only asked LAAB to design a 10-square-meter food kiosk. However, as a food kiosk in the public space, LAAB Architects believe that it also has the mission to serve the public. To achieve its public services, LAAB merged the food kiosk with a large M&E machine room nearby and gained a 17-meter long wall space to accommodate public functions, including a counter table, a vending machine, drinking fountains, info panels, and planters. Harbour Kiosk also provides water and electricity for the Avenue of stars and contains all the server panels and a stereo system for the light show that happens every night at 8 pm.
The façade features three strata of profiled timber slats, which not only conceal the machine room doors but also accommodate different types of public functions inside the wavy surfaces. They also create dynamic flow around the kiosk façade, which results in the subtle changes of profiles, tapering makes the member appear slender and less massive. PEFC-certified red balau wood was used as a sustainable façade material because of its strength, hardness, lightness, and cost-effectiveness. They were treated with exterior grade oil finish for better durability against UV and termites. The length and profile of each timber fin were precisely made with digital fabrication and local craftsmanship.
The architects, engineers, and makers at LAAB developed 4 prototypes in 2 years to optimize the parametric design and the kinetic system to ensure that the structure and design can withstand the typhoon season in Hong Kong. Harbour Kiosk is a recipient of the Japan Kukan Design Award Best 100, the American Institute of Architects International Region Award, and a finalist in the Architizer A+ Award and the World Architecture Festival.