Animal Shelter for House of Joy and Mercy

Animal Shelter for House of Joy and Mercy 2560 1585 Design Business Chamber Singapore

Transformed from an abandoned brownfield in Hong Kong, the Animal Shelter for House of Joy and Mercy is where sustainability meets animal welfare. The shelter features eco-friendly design choices like low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paint for better air quality and eco-friendly septic tanks for optimal waste management. While its empathetic architectural designs, such as glass blocks within the dog rooms for enhanced natural lighting and visual panels of varying heights, caters to the little ones.

Chun Hang Yip, Architecture Director, LAAB Architects
Otto Ng, Design Director, LAAB Architects

1. What do you like most about Architecture?

The ability of architecture to connect different lives – humans, animals, and nature.

For Animal Shelter for House of Joy and Mercy, we designed a big roof where humans and animals can engage with each other in oneness, while being able to have their own space. We like the humbleness of the canopy structure, how it integrates with nature, and how it opens up spaces for animals to engage with nature and humans.

2. What do you see as important issues or considerations in your project?

For any architecture project, it is really important to consider the users’ perspectives.

In Animal Shelter for House of Joy and Mercy, our users are not just humans, but also dogs, particularly dogs who used to live in the villages but ended up being abandoned due to urban development. We studied village dog behaviours and learnt that they are quite territorial. This informed our design of the den as we wanted to choose a material transparent enough to allow sunlight to enter the room but also has a certain level of opacity so that the dogs cannot see each other clearly. In the end, we chose a particular glass block that could satisfy both criteria.

3.  What was the most difficult moment when developing your idea?

Architecture is about finding the balance between our own ideas, our client’s expectations, project constraints, and societal concerns. Difficult moments arise when there is an imbalance among these forces. 

4. What are some new things you learned about yourself and the users as you were designing?

Each project is a new journey that offers different lessons.

For the Animal Shelter project, we learnt a lot about perspectives, whether it is our own as architects, the clients’ perspective, or the users’ perspective. Compared to humans, dogs’ perspectives are ‘lower’ and closer to the ground. Therefore, we designed visual panels with varying heights to cater to both humans and dogs.

Furthermore, dogs’ vision of the world is also different because they have a different colour spectrum. We decided for the interior to be yellow because it is the colour shared by both dogs and humans.

4. What are your future plans?

Currently, we are working on different projects that span across various scales, from art installation and interiors to buildings and public space. We are happy to share that two of our projects in Hong Kong, ‘Phillips New Asia Headquarters’ and ‘Townplace West Kowloon’, will be revealed to the public later this year. 

Apart from that, we are also designing our new office at the moment. Our colleagues are very passionate about designing their own workspace and their involvement is incredible. The design is still underway, but we enjoy this passion project very much.

5.  What was the inspiration behind your product/design/idea?

Nature, people, and the city that we interact with.

6. What is your design superpower?

Our design superpower is our cross-disciplinary approach to architecture and art.

Our team is made of people from different disciplines, including architecture, product and graphic design, engineering, and sociology. Interacting with people from different professional backgrounds forces us to step out of the boundary of our own disciplines. It opens our eyes to see each project in many different, interesting ways.

7. What is the best part about your job?

To witness how drawings become physical reality.




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