Led by Joyce Wang, WANG Studios embraced the unique opportunity to create a cinematic experience in an interior space. The team drew inspiration from the film noir masterpiece, Alphaville, a 1965 science fiction film directed by Jean-Luc Godard that explores the connection between art, technology and society.
The Asia Society Hong Kong has opened its restaurant, Ammo, in what was once a munitions depot. Led by Tony Cheng, whose restaurant group also operates the Drawing Room, Ammo is not the typical museum café: His firm put $1.5 million into the modern, metallic design of the 56-seat space, which stays open long after the gallery closes.
Dining in heritage and history, AMMO, a restaurant and bar, opens at the new Asia Society Hong Kong Center in Admiralty. In a setting unmatched anywhere in Hong Kong, AMMO draws inspiration from the historical, architectural and cultural significance of its location. A former explosives magazine compound created by the British army in the mid-19th century, the site underwent a conversion by renowned New York-based architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and is now the Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
The central feature of the space is a set of three sculptural spiral staircases (a recurring theme of the film) constructed as chandeliers purely out of copper plumbing pipes and cascading from the six-meter high ceiling. The shades of the chandeliers are crafted out of bent copper mesh and rods, a reference to materials used in military and industrial settings. The bunker-like ceiling is supported by copper ribs and lit warmly to further reference the explosives magazine history.
The copper mural on the feature wall behind the bar, another dramatic feature, will have diners pondering the design narrative with clues revealing the site’s history and significance.
The surreal yet modern interiors are cossetted by lush greenery visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Nestled within this stunning landscape backdrop, AMMO is a veritable dining retreat and a pleasant surprise in the midst of bustling Hong Kong.
AMMO, a slang term of ammunition, is a supposed acronym for “Asia, Modern, Museum, and Original”, all the concept notes utilized by chef and restauranteur Tony Cheng and interior designer Joyce Wang of WANG, a boutique design practice fresh off its renovation of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in LA.
Of course it’s all about the marriage of East and West thematically from the food (ie. Cuttlefish Cappuccino, my favorite), to the cocktails (Kiwi Basil Martini), and of course the interiors, a lush sci-fi inspired stage made of Hong Kong style copper plumbing pipes.
Joyce Wang at the AMMO launch and she explained to us the concept of her design, and pointed out how most of the elements that made the wall and ceiling fixtures were indeed made of these copper plumbing pipes and fixed together with general attachments for pipes found in Hardware Stores. She was laughing about how it took a while to convince the contractor that while the ideas may be unconventional and new, it’s quite easy to put together in the end.
Each of the feature light fixtures represent a component of a spiral staircase, and there are three of them; the risers, the steps, and the handrail. I can only imagine what the contractor must have felt after receiving the drawings for the first time.
The bespoke furniture is luxurious. Plush sofa seats surround the glass box restaurant, with every seat having a great view of the lush tropical environment around it. Two large counter tables are situated in the middle of the room with plenty of bar stools, making it hospitable for large groups of friends, or to share with someone new.
Much of our preview snacks “Tapa Bite” versions of menu dishes paired with signature cocktails. I thought the drinks were quite good, but I wouldn’t say I’ve had enough of the Tapas to really make a judgement of the food… however I enjoyed the Braised Angus Oxtail and Oxtail Meatballs which I found juicy and tasty.
A few of of my Instagram Images from that night… one of the custom light sculptures from below.
- Built by the British army in the mid-19th century, the former explosives magazine compound is a culturally and historically significant site.
- Copper appears as a predominant material in the restaurant space – a material commonly found in machine rooms and industrial settings.
- Through these juxtapositions, the diner is at once confronted with a design that is retro yet futuristic; mechanical yet luxurious.
- The bunker-like ceiling is supported by copper ribs and lit warmly to further reference the explosives magazine history.
- Diners will find themselves in a space that begs them to question the significance of its context. Under careful study of materials and detailing, the diners will be rewarded with clues as to ascertain the siteʼs history.
- Luxurious materials such as leather, velvet and silk were chosen to offset the hard-edged custom fixtures and detailing found in the design.
- With such a significant site comes inspiration drawn from a significant film noir masterpiece- Alphaville.
- The AMMO restaurant not only references its prestigious context but pays tribute to it aesthetically and conceptually.
- Within the restaurant, weʼve utilised three staircases to draw the viewers attention to the 6 meters high ceiling as well as to create a dramatic and dynamic effect within the space.
- The AMMO Restaurant nestles within a modern streamlined architectural feat whilst boasts a contrasting backdrop of tropical, almost primitive, greenery.
- The spiral staircase is a recurring theme within the Alphaville film.
- Diners will find themselves in a space that begs them to question the significance of its context.
- The shades of the chandeliers are crafted out of bent copper mesh and rods. These raw materials reference those used in military and industrial settings.
- Under careful study of materials and detailing, the diners will be rewarded with clues as to ascertain the siteʼs history.
In a setting unmatched anywhere in Hong Kong, AMMO draws inspiration from the historical, architectural and cultural significance of its location. A former explosives magazine compound created by the British army in the mid-19th century, the site underwent a conversion by renowned New York-based architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and is now the Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
The team behind AMMO is local celebrity chef and restaurateur Tony Cheng, together with his mentor, Chef Roland Schuller from The Drawing Room. Their vision is to serve simple, elegant and affordable cuisine with unpretentious service. They want guests to enjoy the salubrious surroundings without the fussiness and stuffiness associated with other fine dining establishments.
Project name: AMMO
Location: Lower Level, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Type: Lounge / Bar / Restaurant / Night Clubs
Products: Contemporary Mediterranean Cuisine with an Asian Twist, Catering Service
Food Styles: Asian Fusion, Greek and Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish/Basque, Tapas Bars
Project Year: 2011
Cost: $1.5 million
Completion Year: May 2012
Visit AMMO Restaurant’s Website: here
Client / Owner / Developer: The Asia Society Hong Kong
Interior Designer: Joyce Wang, 324 East 59th St., Unit 5D, NY 10022, United States,
Text Description: © Courtesy of Joyce Wang, AMMO
Images: © Joyce Wang, AMMO