Thomas Leeser is an internationally acclaimed architect and pioneer in design integrating new media and digital technologies
Hong Kong Pavilion, 2014
The design response for the West Kowloon Arts Pavilion is iconic both in its form and its use of innovative technology. Referencing the late 1960’s art & architecture collective Haus-Rucker-Co whose projects explored the perceptions of space, the Artsphere expands the visitors’ minds similarly to the artwork it houses.
Its radical, contradictory form of soft pillows and sharp, pre fabricated structural spikes features a helioscopic print of film which when activated channels solar energy back in to Artsphere’s primary power source. The translucent envelope visually and audibly connects to the surrounding environment as the tips of each of the façade’s spikes house LEDs, loudspeakers and mist jets which produce a vibrant audio visual display and a new semi permanent canvas for public artists.
The Artsphere’s flexible interior lends itself to rotating exhibitions of 2-D artwork, installations and performances by providing an expansive open space, integrated audio visual technologies and controlled levels of natural and artificial light. A glass elevator connects the ground floor to the site’s amenities “box” which appears to deflect the roof of the Artsphere, a design feature that is in fact a key structural component of the pavilion. Inside the floating box 2 office spaces, a storage area and public bathrooms are housed.
Hungarian House of Music, 2014
“Inspiration is enough to give expression to the tone in singing, especially when the song is without words.”
– Franz Liszt
The House of Hungarian Music (HoHM) is envisioned by our firm to be a destination that will be as distinctive in form as the Hungarian Music it represents.
An iconic structure, HoHM will inspire visitors before they even set foot inside the space. It has been created with the intent of being a catalyst for education and communication of Hungarian musical history and genres including Classical, Folk, Contemporary, Pop and Operetta as well as the physics of sound and the physiological nature of hearing. HoHM will take the curious on a journey by using a series of highly experiential design responses merged with the architectural fabric of the building to connect with the senses of touch, sight and sound rather than simply plinthed artifacts.
Through time the parallels between Music and Architecture, two practices based on rhythm, proportion and harmony have been well documented and quoted, most famously by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who noted “Music is liquid architecture, Architecture is frozen music.” This bond which is brought together by an underlying code of Mathematics and Geometry has been explored by our firm, in the process unearthing a unique concept which informs the HoHM’s design, the Gyroid.
The Gyroid contains neither straight lines nor planar symmetries creating dynamic territory for Architectural exploration. For HoHM the single surface shape has been inflated and manipulated to reveal a series of organic and highly flexible spaces, ideal for exhibitions, installations and performance.
Fragments of glass splinter HoHM’s form to create high levels of natural light as well as an opportunity to view patrons make their way up the building’s circulation from the surrounding landscape. Visitors are drawn directly in to the Center via the park’s primary axis, each space is seamlessly connected by a continuous ramp which snakes its way up the structure. The incorporation of recessed floor slabs at various points within the space creating a series of moments where visitors can view and appreciate the building’s unique shape.
HoHM’s staff have also been given an enormous amount of consideration and our desire to provide a healthy and enjoyable working environment for employees has resulted in office spaces being located on level 4 rather than on lower levels which is typical in many cultural facilities. This provides staff with ample amounts of sunlight and views and a workspace they enjoy every single day.
Behind the structure lies a modern amphitheatre built in to the landscape ideal for outdoor musical events and performances. HoHM’s unique shape will not only serve as a backdrop for such events but also an acoustic wall to improve the patron’s experience.
Our environmental designer has outlined a number of key points regarding the sustainability of HoHM which we have included in the associated diagram. In conjunction with these points we have a particular interest in retaining as much of the surrounding flora and fauna as possible.
Although our architectural response is far from conservative, we believe the first space to be dedicated solely to Hungary’s musical culture should not be silenced through its design. It should be a bold, contemporary facility which inspires and excites visitors from across the globe that are welcomed in to HoHM.
Thomas Leeser is internationally known for his iconic architectural designs at all scales. As principal of his own firm for the past twenty five years, his passion for the fusion of emerging technologies and architecture has driven many of the firm’s award winning designs. Thomas’s commitment to architecture extends beyond practicing in the field. For the past twenty five years he has been an architecture professor at nine different universities. He is currently teaching at Cornell University and Pratt Institute. In his teaching and professional work, Thomas explores his commitment to innovation and the advancement of the field of architecture. Thomas specializes in museums, theaters, broadcast and educational facilities.
Our designs are informed bysocial, cultural, environmental + technological patterns. We create richly varied spatial experiences + new programmatic relationships within frameworks that address impact + performance.
Read about Leeser Architecture here: LEESER.COM
Among the award winning projects:
The Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY
As an international cultural destination, the Museum of the Moving Image is touted as one of the world’s best museums. It is also a model of urban environmental stewardship with USGBC LEED Silver certification earned through innovative strategies. One example is its iconic facade which functions as an intricate stormwater management feature.
A new luxury hotel in the Zayed Bay District of Abu Dhabi. The central focus is a helical floor surface that surrounds an undulating void, with the public functions of the hotel occurring at each level. A continuous route from bottom to top unifies the floors and provides a seamless experience for the hotel guest and visitor.