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Stimulating mind, body and soul: HAS Design and Research

INDE.Award-winning studio, HAS Design and Research, may be young but its projects reflect a talent far beyond its practice years. Its vision translates into a new and beautiful reality designed to stimulate mind, body and soul.

Stimulating mind, body and soul: HAS Design and Research

Young and progressive architects, Jenchieh Hung and Kulthida Songkittipakdee of HAS Design and Research (HAS) are changing the face of architecture, creating projects that are visually exciting with layered meaning and sympathetic to people and place.

HAS’ design for Casa de Zanotta in China has just won The Retail Space award at INDE.Awards 2023 – explore here.

The duo was also shortlisted in The Prodigy category of the 2022 INDE.Awards and through a plethora of outstanding projects, the practice speaks to a local, regional and global audience. While HAS was established in Bangkok, Thailand there is also an office in Shanghai, China to help meet the demand for the studio’s talents – and the commissions are certainly rolling in.

While there are many outstanding retail, hospitality, institutional and residential commissions completed by the studio, the installation-style architecture showcases the inventive and original designs of Hung and Songkittipakdee on a more intimate human scale. Here we explore three projects and while each is different, together they present a continuum of resolved and inspirational design that sets HAS aside from its peers.

Related: Relive the highlights of INDE.Awards 2023 and its winners

1. Benchakitti Rain Forest Observatory

Benchakitti Rain Forest Observatory is located in the centre of Bangkok, Thailand and was opened to the public in 2022. The park affords the local populace the opportunity to enjoy and explore green space in the highly dense and urbanised city where the natural world is rapidly receding.

The project, with a site area of just 120-square-metres, is compact and surrounded by a large number of wetlands and trees. Hung, Songkittipakdee and their team have created the architecture of the observatory as part of the natural surrounds with the exterior appearing to be covered by a large number of leaves. The structure becomes a floating wetland island and provides a common habitat for both animals and humans alike.

Within the slightly undulating structure, the ground or lower level is a public place for yoga, meditation and events, while the upper-level includes a viewing platform from which to peruse the park from on high.

At night, strips of light behind smart boards provides various configurations of illumination that define and highlight the building and conversely allows the structure to merge with the landscape.

The Benchakitti Rain Forest Observatory is not only a service facility, it is a part of the tropical rainforest that offers shading from the heat, a place for people to gather and a podium for events. It is also a reminder that there is natural environment to be cherished and enjoyed within such a busy city.

2. Freeing FrameYard

Completed this year, Freeing FrameYard is a pavilion that re-interprets legends of the Hakka people and their love and reverence for the sacred banyon tree. Designed as a gift to the Hakka people and their village, Freeing FrameYard is positioned in the main square of Dawanshiju Hakka village in Shenzhen, China.

The 50-square-metre built area of the installation frames the sky, allows the breeze to flow and imitates the idea of a place for the people to drape their silk and textiles. Juxtaposed with the surrounding concrete buildings, approximately 5000 tubes create a soft and blurred double hanging curtain boundary and, at night, the strip LED lighting illuminates the structure.

At the entrance, aside a statue of Chinese philosopher, Master Zengzi, the tubes form archways and the form helps bridge the vision of the new architecture with that of the century-old Hakka village.

This is place of gathering for locals and visitors and serves as a stage space for drama performances during Hakka New Year festivals. The project embraces the ethereal and becomes other-worldly through its very presence. It is a beautiful addition to this ancient, walled town where the present and the past coalesce.

3. Botanica Meditation Centre

Botanica Meditation Centre is a project situated on the outskirts of the old city of Hefei in China. Much research was conducted by HAS to establish a viable design for the new garden space within the modern city sprawl. The Botanica Meditation Centre sits aside the grand Emerald Lake and is a small green oasis within the historic buildings that encircle it.

Reversing the usual conventional layout of a botanical garden that employs above ground watering systems, the water tank structures are hidden underground, and this allows the land above to be utilised as a multi-functional space for people to connect, meet and meditate.

The complex underground watering system extends to all sections of the garden along with a water mist device that is integral to the aesthetic of the garden. The space becomes a natural habitat for people and local insects, birds and squirrels and, throughout the day, the mist enhances this as a place for quiet contemplation.

Local Hefei travertine has been used as cladding for the structure and as in-ground steps; and local craftspeople were employed to hand-beat the stone into the irregular shapes of the stone for the steps. These complement the smooth form of the built structure.

Located on a 230-square-metre site, the Botanica Meditation Centre is contemporary yet at home among the more traditional buildings that surround it.

A culture of detail and refinement

While each of these three projects is unique, HAS has devised site-specific architectural solutions that are detailed, refined and complement place, culture and people.

Hung, Songkittipakdee and their team bring to their designs a refined, modern sensibility that has been informed by tradition and history. Each project stands alone but all are beautifully executed and expertly realised. HAS is definitely making its presence felt and for this young practice, it is but the beginning of a stellar professional journey.

HAS Design and Research

Yu Bai, Rungkit Charoenwat

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