Weak Architecture

Brewing Nature in Sham Tseng

Nikola Dokecal
MArch thesis 2015

This thesis investigates the process of restoration of an industrial ruin by exploring architecture’s potential in enabling a symbiotic yet entropic relationship with nature. The case of the local brewery founded in 1948 in Sham Tseng to profit from its rich deep artesian water resources is examined. Now demolished, the former brewery testified to Hong Kong’s industrial past which has been superseded by a transition towards serviced based economy which together with land scarcity led to its relocation deeper to the New Territories.

This thesis reimagines the former brewery ruin transformed by reinventing its ownership structure and technical functions as a driver to enhance its scale of productivity, rendering it economically feasible while opening itself to the public as a place for leisure and contemplation. The design utilizes this open condition as an opportunity to ascribe a fictional layer to the story of this demolished industrial complex, a layer that resurrects the smell and sweat of its industrial past while reconciling it with the sanitized image of the developer’s vision.

Part of the old factory remains in place while part of it is relocated further inland in Sham Tseng village along the natural stream, which becomes the connecting thread traversing the internal parts of the designs, telling its own story of the mountains, water and men.

Incorporating the tensions between old and new, natural and manmade, affluent and grassroots, the project proposes an architecture that acknowledges several authors. Architecture as the ruin fuses the recurring human urge for imperfection with the pleasure of form, making space for both the brewing and the shopping.

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