An emerging architectural and urban design practice, Atelier Chen Hung, was established by Melody Chen & James Hung.
Located in Brisbane, Australia, the talented duo have been influenced by the regional movement and their work continues to seek interpretation of place and locality in a new perspective.
What are the main determinants in the design process for you?
James Hung: The inspiration of the project always comes from the client's vision and their brief, and we go through the process of trying to extract/re-interpret this information to develop ideas.
Melody Chen: Every project has its specifics that we try to identify at the beginning. The specifics may be about the user, the site, the surrounding neighbourhood, or the planning codes. These bits and pieces of information then become generators of a core idea in the design process. It's like assembling jigsaw puzzles, except there is no preconceived final picture.
Do you think that architecture tends to be trendy today?
MC: Architecture, like other products of creativity, brilliant ideas are recognised and inevitably copied. Out designs are not trend driven, but we are open to influences from other fields, such as art and fashion.
JH: I think we like to be relevant, rather than following trends. Architecture that responds to certain conditions of a place and time is the type of architecture we want to make.
Do you think that architecture still has a role to play in finding a solution to low cost housing?
MC: Definitely, in fact more than ever. Australia is experiencing significant demographic changes and it's important that the built up environment responds to that. Architects' input in national housing counts around 3%. Its going to be an enormous task for new generations of architects to re-engage themselves in the design of mass housing in Australia.
JH: It's been difficult to get the message out to the general public that the cost of a house should include its' life cycle costs, such as energy consumption and maintenance. And the fact that Australian houses are one of the largest in the world in terms of floor area and really adds up to th cost of building each dwelling. It will be a challenge to convince the market that a reduced floor area with well designed spaces is actually a better living environment.
MC: Architects have been exploring alternative housing solutions, like pre-fabricated dwellings, kit homes and modified cargo containers for living. These will challenge peoples preconception of what a house is and looks like.
Is energy conservation still an important factor in your work? Do you think that people are still trained to respond to that?
MC: Absolutely! Thinking about energy efficiency has become second nature in our design process.
JH: By placing the building in the right orientation on site that opens up to sunlight and breeze, protected from harsh afternoon sun and cold winter winds, these are simple consideration that have always been embedded in the architectural education. A good design could have significant savings on the energy usage of cooling and heating for the lifetime of the building.