Ka Wah Francis Cheung: Winner of the Market 2.0

+ Ka Wah Francis Cheung 🇭🇰

Winner of the Market 2.0: Circular Economy Hub

Portfolio: https://www.non-a.com/members/franc-ckw/portfolio/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/franc.ckw/

1) Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Originally from Hong Kong, I pursued my Bachelor’s degree at The University of Hong Kong and later continued my Master’s studies at the Royal College of Art, during which I focused on experimental spatial design, taking on projects that pushed the architectural boundaries. I am currently practicing architecture in London and actively participating in competitions to explore innovative architectural possibilities. 

2) What inspired you for the Market 2.0?

The Re-fulfilment Centre is my final year thesis at the RCA. Acknowledging the return of imperfect products as a social norm, I delved into the world of reverse logistics in online shopping, proposing a solution to address the prevalent issue of product returns. This led to the concept of the “Theatre of Return Products”, which aims to combat excessive consumerism while fostering a local community of upcycling makers.

3) Can you describe any particular challenges you faced during the design process and how
you overcame them?

Market 2.0 challenges the definition of a market to promote a circular economy. My design envisions a completely new architectural typology, while also putting forth the potential to transform practices through architecture. Given its unprecedented nature, understanding and configuring the spatial quality and requirements posed a challenge. Drawing inspiration from Amazon Fulfilment Centres and leveraging the existing logistics as a foundation for innovation, studying the Axel Springer Campus by OMA to reimagine an atrium, and delving into historical references like Guilio Camillo’s Theatre of Memory, I ultimately conceived the prototype for Market 2.0 – the Re-fulfilment Centre.

4) How do you think your educational background or professional experiences influenced your winning design?

Throughout my academic journey, I’ve been taught to do more than just create aesthetically pleasing projects. I’ve been encouraged to develop architectural designs that confront and, if possible, reshape societal issues and established architectural norms. This has ignited in me a passion to explore concepts that extend beyond the realm of architecture and for establishing a link between design and everyday life. I’ve come to understand that a successful project lies not only in the architectural design itself, but also in the compelling narrative that accompanies it. Ultimately, the end users of architecture are people like us, seeking spaces for enjoyment, meaningful experiences, and, most importantly, inspiration.

5) What advice would you give to students or young professionals looking to excel in architecture competitions?

Designers are accustomed to conveying their vision through panels and, more recently, digital slides. Recent competitions, like those organized by Non-architecture, require condensing a project into one or two images, which is a challenge but also a thought-provoking exercise. It forces us to contemplate what the project’s core requirement is, and how to best portray it. To succeed in competitions, it’s vital to recognize our strengths in presentation and continuously explore novel methods of depiction. For example, the resulting diorama of my project strikes a balance between the tangible and the conceptual, capturing the spatial essence in a distinctive manner. In an era dominated by CGI, I stand by the tactile power of physical models.

6) What are your future aspirations in the field of architecture?

I may not have grand ambitions in architecture, but my aspiration is to be an architect who creates meaningful spaces for users. I want to ensure that limitations imposed by clients in this profit-oriented environment do not overshadow my passion for designing impactful and unique architecture. I aim to avoid falling into the trap of producing mediocre or repetitive designs that are ubiquitous, especially in an era dominated by tools like Revit and AI.

The Re-fulfilment Centre – Theatre of Return Products


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