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NCDA’s Nelson Chow Goes Home To A Tree House

Principal of NC Design & Architecture (NCDA) Nelson Chow meticulously transformed his Hong Kong apartment into a calm retreat complete with an indoor, adult-size tree house.

NCDA’s Nelson Chow Goes Home To A Tree House

Unlike the rest of us, Nelson Chow goes home to a tree house. His new flat used to be a regular compact Hong Kong apartment in a high-rise with a typical layout of a separate bedroom, and living, dining and kitchen spaces. But the Principal of NC Design & Architecture (NCDA) had atypical plans for his pad.

For starters, he demolished everything and started with an open plan. He asked himself a pertinent question – what do I want from my house?

“I work a lot, so I wanted my home to be a place of relaxation. For the few hours that I spend at home, I wanted calmness and to be connected with nature. So I demolished it all and focused on one main feature… a tree house,” Chow recalls.

Inside this 370sqft shell blessed with an unhindered view of a lush urban forest, Chow and his team at NCDA created a split-level design layout. The star feature – a mini, modern-day tree house to sleep in. “I’ve always liked the idea of a tree house. There’s something so magical and dreamy about climbing up to it,” he adds.

Making use of the 10ft high ceilings, the designer built a loft-like section that’s 4ft tall, just enough for him to sit upright. To further reinforce an intense relationship with nature, the floating pinewood tree house is clad in textured terracotta tiles from the outside.

A ladder leads to the 40sqft bedroom where a linear window grants a breathtaking view. Inside, the experience is arboreal and fanciful. Chow describes it as an intimate, enclosed space that inculcates a child-like feeling of wonder and safety.

Like the theme, the colour palette of this small home also takes cues from expansive views of a hillside forest that worked as a flourishing backdrop. Chow is not one for rules but prefers breaking them. He steered clear of the stereotypical whites and opted for a vibrant colour scheme that worked well with the ‘outside’.

“I tried multiple colours before I finally narrowed it down to these. I started with my favourite hue – olive green for the walls. But with the outside drenched in shades of green, it seemed a bit too much,” he explains.

After a few tests, he narrowed it down to this particular shade of dark blue – a bold decision for a small space. To balance out the cold blue of the walls and green of the outside, he picked a natural oak hue and textured terracotta tiles for the tree house. The golden-hued kitchen, original to the flat, further complemented the palette.

In Chow’s small home, each space is split by function and ‘feels’ different. While it makes the most of the available horizontal and vertical spaces with smart solutions, this abode is undoubtedly rooted in whimsy and playfulness.


Photography by Dennis Lo (Courtesy of NC Design & Architecture)

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