The new extension of the Oil Street Art Space (Oi!) in North Point has been opened to the public recently, allowing visitors to appreciate the Grade II historic building revitalised as an art space, as well as the newly built large outdoor space and exhibition hall. Through architectural design and spatial layout, the new and old buildings echo each other, and the artworks placed on site are integrated to promoting art to the community. This time, I have invited the project design team from the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) to give us a detailed presentation.
What is Oi!
Oi! is housed in a red brick Grade II historic building with a tile roof. The building used to be the staff quarters of the former Government Supplies Department and an archaeological storage facility of the Antiquities and Monuments Office. In 2013, the Government revitalised the building as an art space and renamed it Oi! (“油街實現”), as inspired by the Cantonese pronunciation of its address “油街12號” (12 Oil Street). In order to provide more space, Oi! rolled out an extension project in 2019 to be integrated with the adjacent outdoor space of over 3 000 square metres. The new space also has a two-storey building (exhibition hall) for exhibitions and events.
Sophisticated design for the extension project
Senior Architect of the ArchSD, Mr LAU Tin-hang, Peter, says that there are three main design concepts for the extension project. The first is to bring art elements into a high-rise urban environment, so that the public can have more access to art; the second is to create an oasis in a dense city where people can rest and enjoy artworks; and the third is to make the new exhibition hall echo the historic building through architectural design and spatial configuration, while preserving the contemporary and artistic character of the new building and space.
Accessible spatial planning
To achieve the above objectives, the project team also considered spatial planning, such as the creation of a courtyard between the exhibition hall and the historic building, and the preservation of the exisitng trees in the courtyard to maintain a tranquil environment. A huge square has been built adjacent to the courtyard, facing the Electric Road, which widens the entire pedestrian path and helps attract people to the art space. Next to the square is a stage, which can be used as an outdoor cinema or performance and event space. All these spaces are easily accessible to the public.
In addition, a promenade outside the exhibition hall connects City Garden Road and Oil Street, providing an easy access to the waterfront. A ramp next to the exhibition hall provides a route for visitors to view all the outdoor exhibition areas. For example, before entering the main exhibition hall on the first floor, visitors can appreciate the exhibits on the promenade from the platform at the end of the ramp, as well as the exhibits in the courtyard and the entire façade of the historic building.
Creating an urban oasis with different materials
I understand that the project team has also put a lot of thought into the architectural and interior design of the exhibition hall. Architect of the ArchSD, Miss CHAN Tsz-yu, Geri, says that the main materials used in the project are red brick tiles, concrete and glass. The use of red brick tiles echoes the red brick historic building, while the pitched roof design of the main exhibition hall provides a higher ceiling and echoes the pitched roof of the historic building. The team has specially chosen concrete – the same material always used in this concrete jungle – that is cast from wood-grained formwork to give it a natural wood grain surface, echoing the theme of an urban oasis.
Floor-to-ceiling glass on both sides of the exhibition hall allows visitors inside to see the exhibits in the square, the multimedia art on the stage and the exhibitions in the courtyard, while passers-by can also see the exhibits in the hall through the glass windows, attracting them to go inside and learn more about the artworks, thus achieving the goal of art promotion.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR
Currently, Oi! has launched 10 art projects for the opening of the new extension. Two of them are specially designed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, namely the “Joyful Trees (Arbores Laetae)”, a tree-themed kinetic art installation, in which Chinese junipers planted in rotating turntables create an interplay of light and shadow, sparking imagination; the other is the “d'strict Remix”, which is a mixture of art and technology that uses a large screen to showcase tossing waves and a swimming blue whale.
I am delighted to note that many of the community projects undertaken by the ArchSD in recent years have been very outstanding. The new extension of Oi! has now become a unique landmark for the public, people working in the area, as well as visitors to take a stroll or a break in the art space. These visions have encouraged me and my colleagues to continue to put people first and strive to create more suitable and functional public spaces, fostering a liveable community.
19 June, 2022Back