Gentrification is a modern development which divides opinion, but it’s happening everywhere, so the question should perhaps not be “if” but “how” it happens. The issue is particularly key in developing Asian cities, where traditional cultural and design elements are under threat from Westernising commercial influences and the need for architectural redevelopment, and Wall Studio had the issue at the forefront of its thinking when designing Hong Kong restaurant Stack.
The premises is a traditional but endangered Cantonese shophouse in the Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood, and every care has been made to preserve the character of the old building — as much through modern intervention as conservation. Old Cantonese floor tiles have been restored, but the central design feature is the new metal structure that has been fitted throughout. Skilled smiths from the local area were carefully chosen to create the metalwork, which features well-known motifs from the region’s past in a new and modern context. A neon sign installation also blends old with new; Chinese characters morph into English ones to spell out the venue’s key concepts.