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oval london

design studio

oval london/


Oval Partnership Architecture was established in 2010 and is the London design studio of Oval Partnership. We are a multi-disciplinary practice embracing architecture, urban design, master planning and landscape design. In addition to a team of highly skilled architects and designers in London we have at our disposal the full resources of our larger offices in China and Hong Kong, with a track record of over twenty years of design excellence across Asia. Our clients include private individuals, major property investors and developers and government agencies from around the world. With considerable real-world experience in both cultures, we can provide a bridging service to Asian clients looking to explore overseas development opportunities and are equally well placed to assist western companies looking to establish a physical presence in Asia. Our portfolio ranges from restaurants and retail interiors through cultural buildings, exhibitions and museums. From new high-density urban settlements to low density, lowtech rural interventions and new infrastructure for green tourism. We have a particular interest in promoting sustainable urban design and master planning and adopting appropriate technologies for sustainable building. Our strength lies in our ability to bring a fresh, intelligent approach and an open way of working to the design process. This enables us to deliver innovative but practical projects that evolve directly from, and usually exceed, our client’s needs and aspirations.

blending together building & landscape to make an enjoyable & engaging, human scaled place that is sustainable environmentally, economically & socially.

oval london/


Issues of sustainability and environmental protection loom large in China. No country exemplifies more dramatically the stark choices we currently face. Yet the sheer scale of rapid urbanisation, although an enormous challenge, could be seen as a potential catalyst for radical, globally relevant innovation in energy and resource technology and for imaginative, proactive intervention in habitat and biodiversity protection. Oval Partnership has been at the forefront of promoting a more radical sustainability agenda in Asia for many years. It permeates our thinking and informs our work around the world. Working with Japanese engineers we pioneered the use of bamboo as a viable structural construction material in the world’s first multi-storey bamboo house in Kunming, Yunnan Province. The potential of this new technology is immense, providing an affordable and ecologically sensitive option for the building of new townships and villages in China’s less developed interior. In our master planning projects, energy use, habitat and ecological protection are primary concerns. For example, we have been active in the promotion of urban agriculture using grey water irrigation as a way, not only of reducing food miles and improving biodiversity, but also of reminding consumers where food comes from and the delicate balance between man and soil to be maintained if we are to continue to successfully produce it in sufficient quantities. There is now a considerable body of research suggesting that enhanced integration with, and understanding of, the natural world can lead to a greater sense of stewardship and thus community. Equally important for us in the pursuit of meaningful long-term sustainable development are good design and imaginative place making as ends in themselves. Making places that people want to be in. Viewed in this light, the environmental imperative becomes just another good reason to put design centre-stage in the development process.

projects design process

masterplan & urban design

daci daixi eco park dashilan panjin new city guiyang terrace wuli garden of towers yunnan eco resort


Bayswater hku auditorium Jardine’s bazaare hotel middle island Marina willow house

exhibition& installation



garden of earthly delight

Venice Biennale hk

great fen visitor centre pylon - cat’s cradle pylon - hydrogen dairy riparian house


daci chengdu, china

Oval Partnership Architecture was commissioned in 2010 to design this high profile retail and cultural quarter alongside an historically important monastery complex. The design exploits the favourable local climate by promoting open streets with deep eaves, mist cooling and generous planting irrigated with harvested rain water. The London studio developed detailed proposals for the hard and soft landscaping of the public realm, borrowing themes from both present-day and ancient Chengdu to create a kind of artificial archaeology.


daixi eco park huzhou, china

This master plan for a 5km stretch of riverside farmland covers an area of 13km2 between a new reservoir and the small city of Daixi, near Huzhou. The aim is to establish a framework for controlled future development that will promote the retention and enhancement of existing land uses, enabling farmers to add value to their production through organic farming techniques and green tourism, whilst protecting and restoring important water side habitats. A chain of new developments and facilities are strung along the length of the river, interconnected by a sequence of new foot and cycle bridges that criss-cross the water, carrying interpretive information, planting, seating and viewing points.


dashilan beijing, china

This master plan retains a number of significant heritage buildings integrated into a new high-density retail and cultural quarter on this historically important site at the south-eastern corner of Tiananmen Square. The scheme mediates between the busy, commercial Qianmen Street, the monuments and vast open spaces of Tiananmen Square and the extensive Hutong conservation area to the south and west. The aim is to develop a master plan that is both commercially viable and socially engaged, that reinforces and enhances the existing urban vitality of the area and reintroduces layers of use that would formerly have been present: theatre, music, craft workshops, street stalls - to create a thriving twenty-four hour destination.


panjin new city panjin, china

This master plan for a new city centre for a relocated settlement in Liaoning province embraces both the importance of the unique local wetland ecology and the source of Panjin’s prosperity – oil. Our proposal is to create a podium roof level soft landscape that would provide shelter, habitat, visual variety, improved air quality and water treatment and also places for people to wander, explore, meet and relax. Artificial hills and sunken courtyard gardens would create pockets of internal public space sheltered from the harsh climate that in winter causes the sea to freeze. Winter gardens would ensure colour and greenery all year round. Emerging from this landscape would be a series of delicate towers the surfaces of which shift and change in colour according to the atmospheric conditions and the movement of the viewer and the surface of the sea.


terrace guiyang, china

The design treats the two primary elements of tower and plinth as features with opposite characteristics brought together in balanced harmony: The plinth is of the earth, a terraced landscape in dark brick, clinging to the ground and planted richly with local species to create a public garden, with ramps to upper levels. The towers take the form of glowing white lanterns, hovering over this landscape. Rather than expressing every floor, the towers are treated as abstract volumes of ambiguous scale. The forms of the towers are manipulated to maximise the amount of sunlight penetrating through to the gardens from the south and to introduce subtle variations between each tower, maximising views of the gardens below. There are no right-angles, and no repeated shapes, the angle of each facet of each facade being a response to its immediate surroundings. The sculpted form of the plinth gardens allows for generous public space, both internal and external, and easy pedestrian movement between ground, first floor and roof garden (office entrance) level, up ramps and across planted bridges. Planting is used to create a pleasant micro-climate: cooling, shade, shelter, noise-reduction, air cleaning. And to cultivate food and provide habitat for insects and birds. The design provides links to adjoining sites. Retail space takes a variety of forms, from traditional shop-lined street frontages to interior big box retail mall space and niche and boutique units on planted upper terrace levels. Water management becomes not just a functional issue but a feature of the architecture. Rain & grey water is collected & reused for irrigation and provides background noise and visual animation. Energy management and passive building design is integrated into the design and is central to the design philosophy.


wuli garden of towers kunming, china

This high-density proposal envisions the creation of a new park at the centre of the site, pushing up the density at the perimeter to the levels of Hong Kong or Manhattan. The aim is to establish a new pattern of development for future similarly sized densely occupied sites whereby grey water from residential towers can be used to irrigate planted podium roofs and a green core. These green spaces would be used not only for leisure and culture but also for allotments, urban farming and hydroponic cultivation and the planting also provides acoustic and air quality improvement and surface water run-off control. The development is conceived as an integrated urban living complex, contributing to the ‘sustainable compact city’ aspirations of Kunming and is intended as a model for similar developments in the city.



natural shading enhances air quality


adds insulation reduces stormwater runoff decreases heat island effect



provides thermal equlibrium reduces mechanical cooling/heating


improves indoor air quality reduces mechanical cooling/heating utilizes interior courts/atriums to boost air f



provides shading from direct sun reduces need for summer cooling can be enclosed for solar gain in winter vertical louvers angle can be adjustable

























































yunnan eco resort yunnan, china

This project aims to bring to life an abandoned agricultural research station by creating a place of leisure and learning, promoting and interpreting the immense biodiversity and beauty of north west Yunnan and show-casing a way of building that is sensitive to the ecology, climate and geology, creating its own unique sense of place. The vision is to take visitors on an intimate journey bringing them up close to the detail of the rich wealth of unique native flora and fauna for which the region is internationally famous and to create a place that invites both exploration and peaceful contemplation. Local materials and passive climate control techniques are exploited fully to minimize the environmental footprint of the resort.


bayswater london, uk

The concept reflects the park onto the building. However we believe that the ‘living wall’ solution may not be the only way of achieving this and have explored here a number of more easily maintained, and perhaps more dramatic solutions. A range of approaches could be combined. At ground level small ‘fragments’ of park within external ‘atria’, several storeys high with real trees (in tree pits) and ‘wild’ planting. This would create a dramatic impression at street level. The over-riding organisational principle is that each apartment has uninterrupted, un-overlooked views to the park, and where there are double height spaces, there are also mezzanine levels pointing towards the park. The architectural expression perforates a hard protective ‘shell’, perhaps of polished travertine or Portland stone, cutting away to reveal the green ‘soft’ core. This approach would create a recognisable and impressive landmark, in a long tradition of contemporary park-side buildings, with a more beneficial impact on the wider townscape at street-level. There is a strong townscape argument for a medium-rise building here as a way of signalling the presence of Queensway and Bayswater across the Park.


= s to view


massing section

massing elevation


hku auditorium hong kong

The London and Hong Kong studios of Oval Partnership are working closely together on the design of a radical intervention in the heart of the Hong Kong University campus to create a brand-new 400-seat professionalstandard performance venue, new entertainment and exhibition suites, a new bar and greatly improved social and cultural facilities for students. The design builds on the success of the existing Chong Yuet Ming Amenities Centre that it partially replaces by tying together a disparate mix of faculty buildings, canteens, shops and student union facilities to create a vibrant cultural hub around the new venue. The facilities are designed to be as permeable as possible to maximize the benefit to students during the course of the teaching day, whilst in performance mode they will provide state-of-the-art technology for both in-house and visiting performers. The existing Theatre 303 will also be upgraded as part of the redevelopment.

looKing down on tHe roofscApe

light wells

translucent theatre box

light wells

back stage opening

slit window

concrete wall with toplights



light well above

light well above planter void to floor below

back stage opening folding doors

new terraso surface

stone/terraso seating


top lights to floor below new terraso surface


NASA club room]


dis. toilet


male toiles

workshop & backstage female toiles


store room

bar terraso bench new terraso surface

terraso bench


new terraso surface




mAteriAls canteen level

mAteriAls plaza level

front view overlooking terrasse

using natural su depth within the s allows space

Views into gallery space and staircase

showing light wells and na sunlight falling onto the floor o gallery space in a soft diffuse

Gallery space and entrance from Wong Chong Lai Wah Bui

highlighting the large stage door that connects the space into the open space outside. allows for outdoor functions using the stage as focal point, as well as creating a 360 degree stage space for performances. Auditorium stage

Canteen floor exit leading to the series of staircases south of auditorium

highlighting the large stage door that connects the space into the open space outside. allows for outdoor functions using the stage as focal point, as well as creating a 360 degree stage space for performances.


jardine’s bazaare hotel hong kong

Working closely together with the Hong Kong office of Oval Partnership we have been evolving concepts and ideas for affordable urban hotel accommodation on a site in one of the busiest shopping districts in the world. Jardine’s Bazaar itself is one of the oldest shopping streets in Hong Kong, dating back to at least 1845. Our current proposal integrates energy efficient design with smart technology to enable visitors to customize their visit according to their own particular requirements. Every aspect of the visitor experience has been re-thought from first principles, from the design of shoe storage in rooms to the use of a smart phone app as the single point of visitor and management interface with all the hotel systems. The exterior presents a shimmering, variegated surface, a register of the interface between inhabitation and external environmental control. A deep, multi -layered curtain wall façade with built-in window seats integrates vertical and horizontal blinds and triangular-section solarshading louvres with variable reflective dichroic surfaces.

04 - Facade Design - BUILDING SKINS

The facade is made of two skins of curtain wall glazing spaced apart by a 300mm environmental buffer zone. - The external layer provides solar shading - The internal skin provides privacy to individual rooms - Framed views are provided where clear openings overlap

Curtain wall build-up

Facade build-up:


2. 3.

1. Reinforced concrete super-structure 2. Light-weight accoustic room partition 3. Light-weight sleeping platform 4. Internal Skin - OKATECH by OKALUX. 1150mm X 4000MM aluminium framed glazing panel with metal interlayer where required for privacy and shading 5. Internal skin - centre pivot openable light. 6. 300mm environmental buffer zone with maintenance access. 7. Curtain walling structure. 8. External Skin - OKATECH by OKALUX. 3240mm X 1000mm aluminium framed glazing panel with metal interlayer where required for privacy and shading



4. 5.


4. 7. 3.





External / Internal Glazing Skin: OKATECH by OKALUX. 1. Outer pane, tempered glass 2. 2-8 mm Cavity with copper mesh interlayer as required for privacy and shading. 3. Intermediate pane, tempered glass, coated as required. 4. Cavity: up to 12 mm without interlayer 5. Inner pane: Heat-strengthened laminated glass or tempered glass 6. Anodised aluminium frame colour TBC

Glazing Panel - with metal interlayer interlayer

04 - Facade Design - EXTERNAL SKIN

- Internal skin only

- External skin full height of building


- External skin folded to SURYLGHWHUUDFHV

0RUHVPDOOHU openings

- or fewer large openings


middle island marina hong kong

By adopting a phased construction process, the construction of an entirely new state-of-the-art boat club building would be enabled with minimal disruption. The building is split clearly into functional maintenance and training areas and leisure / entertainment areas. They could each have separate entrances and operate in parallel or completely independently of one another if required. A new single storey building provides a 300m2 entertainment/ function room. It is glazed on all sides with 180-degree views of the sea. A lightweight stair and lift leads to a minimal ‘glass box’ second storey and viewing deck which provides space for a separate restaurant and sailor’s bar and lounge. It agives access to the roof of the entertainment area which can be used for BBQs and outdoor functions and has views over the bay. The maintenance and training area is lowered and accessed via a gently sloping ramp, which allows visitors the opportunity to view the sailors working on their boats as they enter. The outdoor area is covered with a lightweight rain canopy with indoor offices and training spaces to the rear. A services block links the two separate parts of the building and contains kitchens, toilets and showers. The new building is wrapped around by a new timber deck at ground floor level. The deck rises around the rear of the building to allow direct access to the office and roof terrace for sailors and direct access to the west bay for families and children. There is the option to provide a temporary or floating pontoon for swimming and sun bathing to the west of the building. The roofs can be planted to minimize visual impact from across the bay and could be used to collect rainwater for use within the building – for boat cleaning and other nondrinkable applications


willow house beijing, china

A retained willow tree marks the entrance to this new 1500m2 private house. Family spaces are organised at the west end of the house with guest accommodation and entertainment situated at the eastern end. A double height entrance hall and glazed winter garden act as orientation spaces between the two, with a first floor bridge connection. The extensively glazed open-plan ground floor, opening onto a sequence of intimate perimeter pocket gardens, paved terraces and pools, is set 600mm below ground level to maintain privacy. The external form of the house references the Prairie style houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, with deep over-sailing eaves to prevent over-heating in summer.

exhibiton& installation/

venice biennale hk venice

David Chipperfield chose his title for the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, Common Ground, for its double meaning: shared ideas / shared territory. He hoped to reconnect architects, both to each other and to the wider public and to expand the debate on how we jointly shape our shared built environment. In Hong Kong this double meaning has added poignancy. The phrase ‘one country, two systems’ is a maxim constantly under interrogation. To what extent does Hong Kong retain a different system, and how does this different system envisage the involvement of its citizens in shaping their future? We chose to explore these questions in the context of the regeneration of South East Kowloon, the redevelopment of which became feasible following the departure of Kai Tak Airport in 1998, and has been the subject of heated debate ever since.

Curated, designed and built: Oval Partnership Graphics: Hybrid Exhibitors: ANTs, CAVE, Wallace Chang, Foster and Partners, Hidden Agenda, HK Honey, HK Farm, Oval Partnership, Rocco Design, Ronald Liu and Partners, Eric Schuldenfrei

The exhibition, which runs from August 27th to the 25th of November 2012, aims to recreate the complex, partial, fragmented experience of passing through a city full of competing voices and spaces. As curators we became ghostwriters, threading stories from past, present and future through real and speculative propositions for the South East Kowloon development area and beyond: cutting and pasting, juxtaposing and re-contextualising, time-shifting. We saw this as a way of conjuring memory and individual experience into an abstract master plan, as a way of furthering local debate and dialogue and as a way of evoking the past whilst celebrating the unofficial, ad hoc re-inhabitation of this rapidly changing area. Successful cities are permissive, embracing a spirit of multiplicity and difference, of subversion and invention. Without the underground, the semi-legal and the anti-authoritarian, cities become sterile and predictable. Biologically dead. Our exhibition presents some of the official, large-scale new uses proposed for South East Kowloon, and the unofficial, unplanned, locally generated activities that occupy the cracks and crevices in between. These, with a little water, might flower into a rich meadow.


garden of earthly delight cronton, england riba comptition

On the former site of Cronton Colliery, a national competition calls for a self-sufficient attraction for local and regional visitors to help regenerate the area. We propose a Sensory Garden for the 21st century, an inclusive place for the whole community of Knowsley and beyond; A garden for the arts, science, ecology and industrial heritage; A garden to foster community cohesion through ecological regeneration. The primary elements will include a community building with an organic bar and restaurant; cultivated gardens and interpretive material mapping the footprints of the original colliery buildings; wild, natural areas, and; an outdoor amphitheatre for theatre and solar-powered cinema. These will be the setting for play, relaxation, learning, therapeutic gardening and sensory exploration. Project done in collaboration with Brock Carmichael Architects.


great fen visitor centre england riba comptition

Our proposal is part of a continuing exploration of transient territory and the palimpsest of man’s history in the landscape. The landscape of our Great Fen visitor centre will over time become dotted with lightweight timber ‘fen huts’ – modest sheds with a multitude of uses, connected by a network of raised boardwalks. The footings of the existing barn are used as the base for a new visitor hub and workshop for the construction of the huts. These fen huts are based on a standard pattern but can be adapted to a variety of uses. Different materials – thatch, willow, clay, timber can be used and the construction of the huts would be part of a charitable sustainable construction training programme. The huts will be wheeled out into position along the boardwalks and can be brought back to ‘base’ for re-fitting and repair. This would all be part of the theatre of the visitor experience. Key Points:

• • • • • • • • • • • •

rolling programme, change over time add as you can dotted over the landscape: denser around the visitor centre majority of the landscape returned to natural wetland state historical aspects of the ‘productive landscape’ showcased rest lightly on the land: light weight construction, demountable template of parts the hut as an outpost huts when closed up are secure apprenticeship and training hut ‘outposts’ in nearby towns promote the centre sustainable approach, low impact design, locally sourced materials & labour; sustainable both environmentally and economically as well as socially


Reconstruct the existing barn to a workshop & visitor hub


construct the huts & boardwalk components in the barn workshop


build a boardwalk over the landscape


move the fen•hut out of the barn into the landscape via the boardwalk


lock the fen•hut into position, connect any services required & fit out the interior


phase one/ reconstruct the Barn into the workshop

phase two/ construct boardwalks & first fen•huts


build a barn extension

phase three+ / extend the boardwalks, add more fen•huts, build barn extension


cat’s cradle pylon riba pylon comptition

In an attempt to emulate the low-tech, carbon neutral appeal of the traditional timber telegraph pole (with it’s familiar creosote smell, lost cat notices and bird boxes) we explored numerous options for timber lattice and woven organic structures but could not compete with the cost-efficient model established by the galvanized steel original. We then hit upon the idea of breaking the pylon down into a single supporting composite ‘wand’ for each cable: a ‘bunch of sticks’ that is extremely stable and highly adaptable to varying terrain with a minimum number of standard elements. Using a simple spatial algorithm to ensure the cables remain at the correct distances from each other, cables can criss cross between pylons providing additional horizontal bracing. This can be used to produce seemingly random patterns like the threads of a cat’s cradle that appear more natural than the ordered geometry of traditional pylons which are often visually uncomfortable when viewed obliquely or against a backdrop of trees.


hydrogen dairy england riba comptition

The prospect of a multitude of smaller scale, renewable energy sources in the form of wind turbines, solar farms and tidal generators proliferating across the landscape, often sited in sensitive and remote locations, is one we surely have to embrace. But is converting and transmitting that energy as electricity through above-ground cables carried on pylons the most efficient, appropriate or environmentally sensitive solution? We would suggest perhaps not. We propose a national network of hydrogen dairies. The argument for hydrogen as the fuel source of the future is steadily being won with hydrogen powered buses now a reality in London. Used initially as a damper, or ‘sponge’, to soak up demand fluctuations in the existing grid it is easy to see how a gradual transition to a hydrogen fuel economy could be achieved. Our argument is that this is now the right technology to convert and transport energy from a myriad of sources of widely varying size and capacity scattered across the landscape – just as milk is collected from farms large and small through an adaptable, flexible network.


riparian house nevada, usa drylands competition

Water has seeded human settlement across the world, yet many modern developments turn their back on it. We propose a radical alternative in this case study of a typical residential development. River Park, in Reno, Nevada, is situated in a high desert valley. It was built between 1995 and 2002 and is typical of developments throughout the West. Reno relies on snowpack in the mountains for water but rights to the river are contested and little is left for the endangered Cui fish of the Native Americans at Pyramid Lake. River Park has wide paved streets and large detached houses. The design pays no heed to the landscape and buries tributaries under the streets. Our proposal has comparable type and number of houses, is sensitive to its environment and has sustainable water and energy systems at all scales. Based on five basic principles, we believe it creates a healthier community while maintaing economic viability.


Oval Partnership Architecture Ltd. Unit 206 24-28 Hatton Wall London EC1N 8JH Tel: +44 (0)20 8616 1766 Email: jonathanpile@

Oval UK, portfolio  

The architectural work done in Oval's London studio.

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