LAAB Architects recently completed a rooftop biodiversity museum and sustainability learning center in Hong Kong. Located at the heart of the urban city in Hong Kong, the Nature Discovery Park offers experiential learning and farm-to-table dining experiences for city dwellers. LAAB was tasked with the challenge to turn an otherwise residual space in the shopping mall into a learning and experience center of nature.
In the middle of Nature Discovery Park are a glasshouse and an urban farm. Steel structure and aluminum cladding were used to frame the glasshouse, which features large sliding glass doors that open its interior to the outdoor farm. To save energy, IGU glass facade was used to reduce heat gain. The sliding doors are always open to draw in sunlight and to enhance natural ventilation to minimize energy consumption. The steel structure, aluminum cladding, and glasses were all prefabricated and installed on-site to reduce construction waste. The roof is slightly pitched forward so that the architecture catches the prevailing wind from the harbor while visually embracing the farm. The reflection of the farm on the glasshouse against the surrounding skyscrapers produces a visual reminder of the co-existence of nature and urbanism. The door handles, pendant lamps, and dining tables were crafted by LAAB using sustainable wood.
The spatial design of Nature Discovery Park advocates for the co-existence of humans, nature, and the urban environment by enabling eco-tours and a series of education programs on biodiversity and sustainability. The nature exploration journey begins with an archive that showcases rare butterfly species, leading to an aquarium that hosts the water and tropic marine species of the Victoria Harbour across the site if there were no pollution. Inside the greenhouse, a hydroponic nursery brings organically grown vegetables to the table. The farm in front of the glasshouse offers urban farming opportunities for city dwellers, promoting eco-parenting through activities such as rooftop farming and nature art jam. As Hong Kong is home to a dazzling diversity of butterfly species, the nature discovery journey ends with a butterfly garden that grows plants to attract butterflies.
Photography: Otto Ng, Courtesy of LAAB