How a Wan Chai residence, complete with a beautiful rooftop garden, was transformed into a space for work and play

This 2,500 sq ft penthouse in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district has plenty of enviable features—from panoramic views of the city’s skyline to a rooftop garden that measures an additional 1,500 sq ft.

A revamp by Hong Kong-based Adapa Architects means the four-bedroom, five-bathroom residence—which also has two balconies—is now transformed into a place dedicated to work and play. 

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The owners of the home are based overseas, explains Ada Leung, founder of Adapa Architects. They wanted a home that has spaces dedicated to working, as well as dining and gathering, whenever they were in town.

She and her team “played with paint colours and textures”, plus added bespoken wooden elements, water features and lighting. The new look was created with combining aesthetics with functionality in mind: “We designed to blur the boundary of work and leisure,” she says.

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The living room now has a large table, which is by Bontempi Casa and supplied by Matisse. It is not just for dining, but also for conferences, says Leung. Meanwhile, the adjoining work desks are designed to blend in with the bespoke carpentry, she adds. 

The master bedroom features a solid wood desk, a full-height bookshelf and cabinets, all sourced from Twenty One From Eight. The adjoining terrace, which offers stunning views of the Victoria Harbour, is a space to relax and enjoy tea, says Leung. 

In another bedroom, Leung transformed a large bay window—a design notoriously seen in many Hong Kong apartments—into a lounge area-slash-work desk. This is a space made for working, reading—or even napping, she says.

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The owners are passionate about nature, says Leung—and this has also inspired various design details. This is especially evident in the expansive rooftop garden, which, along with the balconies, are the highlights of the home, says Leung.

“They’re where they can relax, [put on] barbecues, exercise and entertain.” 

The rooftop garden is sectioned into three areas: an intimate space, nestled under a trellis; an area dedicated to entertaining; and a lounge area, which is where meetings and can take place.

They are linked together via tall water feature created by Leung and her team: “the sound of running water reminds one of nature, in the midst of an urban setting,” she says.

This space originally housed a private pool, and though that’s a much-coveted feature in Hong Kong, it was converted into something entirely different—an urban farm. There is already a large pool in the complex, says Leung, and the new feature satisfies her clients’ love of nature.

“It is [for them] to enjoy farming—and to take time away from busy lives, with rewarding results.” 

The project took nine months to complete, with four months devoted to the creative process. The property was newly built, and Leung and her team were careful not to change everything: “It was too wasteful to demolish.” The wooden flooring was kept, while the false ceiling and air-conditioning units underwent small modifications for functionality purposes. 

Some of the challenges Leung encountered came as a result of the decision to keep most of the original finishes intact. Technical solutions had to be created in response to the levelling of the raised floor on the rooftop, as well as noise that came from an engine room in the building where the elevator is positioned. 

In a move that has become the new normal, Leung and the clients—who were overseas while most of the project took place—only had several meetings in person to discuss ideas and preferences. Communication was done via messaging thereafter. 

In the end, the work had paid off. Leung and her team were able to “achieve a desirable, relaxing, countryside living [aesthetic]—even though the home is in a bustling city setting.”

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