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5 minutes with… Cheungvogl

INDE.Awards 2019 Jury member Chui Lai Judy Cheung, co-founder of Cheungvogl (with Christoph Hoelscher Vogl), tells us about poetic pragmatism, progressive clients and what she’ll be looking for in this year’s entries.

  • Christoph Hoelsche Vogl (left) and Chui Lai Judy Cheung (right), co-founders of Cheungvogl.

  • Au Pont Rouge, Saint Petersburg

  • Au Pont Rouge, Saint Petersburg

  • Au Pont Rouge, Saint Petersburg

  • Shinseoul (“New Seoul”)

  • Shinseoul (“New Seoul”), pavilion entrance

  • Shinseoul (“New Seoul”), pavilion interior

  • Yeoui-Naru Ferry Terminal, Yeoui-Naru, Seoul

How would you describe your practice?

Cheungvogl is an architecture practice based in Hong Kong with site offices in China and Germany. In our work, we aim to create architecture, which on the one hand is extremely rational and pragmatic and at the same time sensitive and poetic – aspects that are seemingly antithetic to each other. To achieve this, we explore connections between architecture, art, science and philosophies, freeing architectural thinking from pre-definitions and discovering new potentials within our own thinking and the architectural design process. We like to describe our way of working and our architecture as ‘Poetic Pragmatism’.


Yeoui-Naru Ferry Terminal, Yeoui-Naru, Seoul. The slender terminal building follows the river’s flow and is sheltered by a continuous undulating roof.


What projects you are working on at the moment?

We are currently realising the Yeoui-Naru Ferry Terminal on the Han River in Seoul after winning the largest completion in South Korea held to date, with Ryue Nishizawa and Alejandro Zaera-Polo on the jury. Alongside other projects in South Korea, we are currently also working in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Germany.


What do you think are the biggest challenges for Hong Kong architects right now and how is Cheungvogl approaching those challenges? What would you like to see change?

Cheungvogl has always worked internationally, also because of our personal and professional backgrounds. Our international experiences and exposure enable us to enrich the view on local projects with a much wider perspective. To really understand and love a place, you have to see it from a distance and in comparison with alternative ways of thinking, doing and making in other places.


“To really understand and love a place, you have to see it from a distance and in comparison with alternative ways of thinking, doing and making in other places.”

Chui Lai Judy Cheung



What’s your number one concern for the global architecture industry?

We see the potentials of new construction technologies and materials in combination with new infrastructure and mobility concepts as a promising way forward to develop the ongoing worldwide urbanisation in a more sustainable and holistically responsible direction. Architecture and urban planning, as well as the construction industry, will be key sectors to achieve energy and emission reduction in accordance with climate goals.


Who are your inspirations in the world of architecture?

Intellectually, we are mostly driven by questions deriving from the philosophical and artistic realms, from the definition of ‘being’ and the meaning of ‘time’ to the definition of ‘human’ and ‘life’. These questions stand before any aesthetical thinking.

In this sense, the Teshima Art Museum by Ryue Nishizawa in collaboration with the artist Rei Naito is certainly the most remarkable space as it conjures up such intellectual complexity in its reduced simplicity on an emotional level.



Shinseoul (“New Seoul”), a concept for the reactivation and expansion of Hoehyeon underground system adjacent to Shinsegae Department Store


What type of project would you love to work on?

The main factor in a successful project is progressive and forward-thinking clients. All other parameters, like location, typology, brief and budget are surely important but secondary to having successful like-minded collaboration in the client-architect team.


What’s the most interesting thing about the way you work?

We challenge ourselves to overcome our own pre-conceptions in the process of our work to inform the design by rational, abstract and philosophical thinking. We are free in our thinking, freeing our minds and the resulting architecture from pre-definitions.



“We are free in our thinking, freeing our minds and the resulting architecture from pre-definitions.”

Chui Lai Judy Cheung



What’s one item in the workplace you can’t live without?

Besides the general tools and devices involved in the process of architecture, it would be ‘curiosity’, rather than a physical item.



Au Pont Rouge, Saint Petersburg – an open exhibition retail space and a robotic system within a 110-year-old iconic department store.


What’s on the horizon for Cheungvogl?

We hope not to look towards the horizon too much, but to focus on every step on our creative process as a journey. We do see architecture as an intellectual process, with singular projects and events being part of ongoing development and discourse.


What will you be looking for in the INDE.Awards 2019 entries?

In recent years, Asian architecture and design, especially from Japan and China, has gained global significance and we do hope to see projects reflecting the continuation of this creative process.


Find out more about the esteemed INDE.Awards 2019 Jury here. Entries to INDE.Awards 2019 are open (deadline extended to 8 February!)  – enter now to put your work on stage across the Indo-Pacific.

And click here to read why you need to enter INDE.Awards 2019!

Images courtesy of Cheungvogl.

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