The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

Building the Groundwork in Asia

Manfred Yuen, Founder of Groundwork, talks about design’s rise from the east and ‘hawker’ culture. Wynn A. Bay has this story.

Building the Groundwork in Asia


August 1st, 2012

On the decision to start his own practice.

Prior to initiating Groundwork in Hong Kong in 2007, the Cambridge architecture graduate and 2011 awarded ‘Top 40 architects under 40’ had worked with the Coop Himmelb(l)au office in Vienna and Dalian in China. He sees the founding of Groundwork in Hong Kong as not about the desire to break away from the aesthetic of the big names in the design industry, instead Groundwork is like a filtering tool that embraces them.


Shenyang View (sales office)

“The experience at Coop [Himmelb(l)au] was like cells that fuelled my creativity engine… Paul Kath (the Project Partner of the Dalian International Conference Centre) taught me everything. Paul taught me about life, art and strategies. At the end of the day, China for me is about strategies.”


Automall at Tianling

Yuen’s non-cultural barrier approach to design has led him to see things beyond China however; there may be differences in language across Asia, but he feels that the similarities are very evident in terms of the way of living, the food – and in particular the love for street (hawker) food.


The Pit (car service station)

“It is part of our future. We are Asian. Not merely Chinese. People have been talking about the Renaissance of Asia, and I am strongly convicted that we are eminently part of it. We must unite and share our knowledge for the betterment of Asia and our values.”

About hawkers and his on-going exhibition, Hawkerama

As much as any great structure will never disregard its environment, Groundwork’s previous 15:15 Rain Catcher exhibited at the 2009 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism Architecture captured the Hong Kong people’s dislike for unpredictable rain patterns, which hinder the enjoyment of eating outdoors under neon-lit hawker stalls – a past time with deep cultural roots. The final structure existed as a foldable hawker stall with a transparent protective roof to collect the rain. As the raindrops reflected the soft lighting from the stall in an unpredictable manner, the structure became a celebration of the rain.



15:15 Rain Catcher

Currently, Hawkerama, an exhibition curated by Kong Kong artist Kacey Wong, continues to explore the existence of hawkers. “

We are participating because we feel that it is the right thing to do to preserve such an interesting facet of Hong Kong culture. Otherwise, what are we left with?”

The first Hawkerama was held on 15 July 2012. The next instalment will be will be in mid August with Osage Gallery.


INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed