Chalet Terrace

Bean Buro was tasked with refurbishing an approx. 850sqft (79sqm) apartment inside the third floor of a Tong Lau (tenement buildings built in late 19th century to the 1960s in Hong Kong) on Prince’s Terrace in Hong Kong. The site is in a peaceful neighbourhood hidden in the hilly areas of Central, on a pedestrians only street only steps away from the vibrant SOHO district. The site is very characteristic of old historical Hong Kong, with a stone paved street with tall trees and cafes - reminiscent of European street life. The apartment is for a newly married Swiss Hong Kong couple whom had previously lived in Europe and the US, and now working as professionals in the city. The apartment would support the couple’s live, work and healthy lifestyles.

Referencing the mood and feel of a Swiss chalet, the materials palette is reminiscent to a cosy wooden sanctuary, with timber being the main material that creates a unified wooden flooring that also forms the wooden theatre box at the terrace, of which its raised platform, walls and ceiling are all lined in timber veneer. The raised platform is also a subtle reference to a Japanese tea house, to further increase a sense of wellbeing. The windows are fixed with limited openable areas to increase safety concerns. A long row of planters are integrated at the window sill for flowers, creating a dialogue with the external trees. A calming muted green colour paint was used on the central joinery element to further correspond to the green environment outside.


The proposed design is a complete rejection of the previous cellular layout with small individual rooms, into a new innovative composition that is open, flexible, and connected with the tranquil atmosphere of the street. The new apartment has a concealed walk in storage at the entrance with a full height mirrors to virtually enlarge the foyer space. An open kitchen with a bar with two stools is created to enlarge the openness of the apartment. The main feature is a central joinery element that can be seen from all corners of the apartment, linking the open kitchen, foyer, dinning, lounge spaces together while concealing a master bedroom and a guest room that can be partitioned from the lounge with full height operable glass partitions. The central joinery element has a display niche lined in terrazzo, with an integrated fireplace that uses biofuel.


The main concept is to increase functions and activities at the threshold between inside and outside; to bring the street atmosphere in and to connect the interior with the external scenery. The idea of inhabiting such an ‘in-between’ space, was inspired by The Muller House - a house designed by the late architect Adolf Loose in 1930. Various architectural historians, including Beatriz Colomina, have examined and discussed the raised sitting space situated at the facade of the building as a ‘theatre box’; it is a 'female' space that is considered private and contrasts with the 'male' public spaces of the house. The theatre box draws attention to itself, and at the same time the occupant of the box is looking out, the person looking at it views the most intimate space. P 317, The Split Wall Domestic Voyeurism, by Beatriz Colomina and Jennifer Bloomer. Princeton Architectural Press 1992

The area along the window is conceptualised as a large wooden ‘theatre box’, with a raised platform and large operable windows for bird viewing, street watching, exercising, working, and gardening. Lined entirely in timber, the geometry also creates an intimate personal work point with a built in table at one end, which has a corner window that faces down the street. The timber element creates an opportunity for planters below the window sill, and a long bookshelf niche at the low level of the planters. The raised platform is also considered as a seating space with cushions for guests as part of the lounge sofa set. Passersby from the street may be able to look up and see the ceiling of the wooden ‘theatre box’, but not able to see the activities inside. It is at the intersection of the visible and the invisible.


Project data

Bean Buro Team
Design directors: Lorène Faure, Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui
Project designer: Tommy Hui

Contractor: Glad Base Group

Client: Private