22 June 2018
22 June 2018
LEAD, Hong Kong: Explorative, Creative, Inclusive.
The Culture of Practice
LEAD (Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design Ltd.) is a mould-breaking practice helmed by Founder and Principal Kristof Crolla, who combines his architectural practice with an assistant professorship in Computational Design at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, School of Architecture (CUHK).
Notable works include the expressive Golden Moon 2012 Mid-Autumn Festival Lantern Wonderland, challenging traditional craftsmanship by infusing computation. The explorative nature of the firm means that they are constantly seeking out new ways of designing and implementing architecture, reinventing the wheel with every single project.
“We’re trying to find ways through design technology to arrive at a platform that has much more horizontal data sharing and because of that allows architects to have bigger control of the final outcome,” says Crolla, who worked for many years as Lead Architect at Zaha Hadid Architects in London before moving to Hong Kong in 2010.
The practice is located in Sai Ying Pun, a tiny pocket on the hill sprinkled with charming coffee shops and boutiques, which fulfils the firm’s commitment to go beyond the generic. This also allows them to operate in a spartan way, being able to comfortably venture out into the neighbourhood for lunch or coffee meetings.
Models and books decorate the walls of the ground floor space, with one large desk in an open environment. The former painter’s studio is a kind of bricks and mortar embodiment of the firm’s philosophy: to integrate a local, specific, unique culture in a pragmatic way.
“The connection with the street is something you wouldn’t be able to have in most other parts of Hong Kong,” explains Crolla. “The very grassroots philosophy of our office – trying to overhaul the status quo of the commercial environment – is reflected in its situation in the neighbourhood.”
Currently the firm is operating with a small team of seven carefully selected specialists that can actively contribute to the bigger agenda of what they are trying to do as a practice. “I’m trying to create the only office I would want to work in myself,” says Crolla.
Author: Kat Allenby, Global Head of Communications, Bespoke Careers