A non-profit organization of art and culture, the Asia Art Archive is a platform for new ideas of art, centering particularly peripheral art knowledge and histories that have been historically sidelined. As AAA’s collection and public programs continue to grow, we are very happy to be part of the team to help rethink its expansion at the same location. Just as how AAA has made space for knowledge and people, we envision this new home to be an open, inclusive, and nurturing place that makes space for books, people, and everything in between.
A go-to place for intellectuals, “the archive” can sound a bit intimidating for people who are outside of the art profession. When designing the new home, we envisioned a space that is open and welcoming for people from all walks of life.
To make room for public engagement, we removed the non-structural walls and lined the space with a wooden shelving system. The bookshelves give a sense of transparency and lightness to the space while performing their function as book storage. This spatial reconfiguration has helped increase the event space by 60% and the collection space by 63%.
At the center of the new home is an open, versatile, and undefined space, giving freedom to its users, who can transform the space according to their needs, be it reading, meeting, seminar, or exhibition. Eight custom-made “A Tables” loosely stood in the open space. They are lightweight and can be easily moved around to cater to different spatial configurations. We also selected a collection of wooden chairs made in various Asian countries to embrace a sense of diversity. The two sides of the library host collections and study carrels, compactors, a help desk, a lounge, and the collection team office.
AAA enjoys a panoramic view of the Sheung Wan neighborhood. We arranged the bookshelves in a way that guides visitors’ gaze from the books to the city.
We extended the wooden shelves to frame the windows and designed an exhibition system against the city backdrop. The system has a built-in light source and cable management to facilitate exhibitions.
The new home is located on the same floor of the same building in Sheung Wan, where AAA has lived and operated for more than twenty years. There is a lot of memory and history in this space. The current design inherits some memories from the previous home and interprets them in a different way. For example, the window exhibition system is an evolution from the previous design. The leather cushions along the windows are an adaptation from the “A Space,” which was AAA’s social space before the renovation.
The coral colour used in the new home was selected from the pigments developed by Nilma Sheikh, whose work forms an important part of AAA’s archive of modern Indian art. The wood veneer is tinted orange-red, which is also a pigment from Nilma Sheikh’s work.
AAA is also committed to sustainability. The new home is the first interior space in Hong Kong to use natural cork flooring. Harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak Tree without harming it, cork is an environmentally friendly material that will decompose at the end of its life cycle. We also used linoleum flooring which is made from 97% natural raw materials along with 40% recycled content. We reused a lot of the furniture whenever possible from the previous home.