Practicing architecture runs in the family. “Our father is an architect and we grew up building our own childhood home and eventually my bother, who is older, started studying architecture first and I pretty much just followed him as younger brothers do”. It lead Dominic first to working for other architectural firms, but eventually the brothers started their own practice 10 years ago. Leong Leong’s design approach is driven by a curiosity for new organisation typologies and aesthetic experiences that offer new ways of living, working, and interacting with one another. Frequently expanding the role of the architect, with an approach that spans between strategic thinking and material experimentation, from the city to the artefact. Finding new forms of collectivity and trying to understand what role architecture has in contemporary life.
“I think one of the things that we are really interested in is trying to integrate, some sort of social awareness, a social agenda with a kind of aesthetic language and I think historically there have been moments when the two parts of architecture have been aligned and moments they haven’t. And I think currently it’s interesting to think about how to reintegrate these aspects having that kind of social project, but also having a very strong aesthetic project and how they’re actually interrelated in a way that the social and the aesthetic are very much one and the same. So each project we work on, in certain ways deals with the merging of dichotomies.
Leong Leong’s office is located on the Bowery, Lower East Side, just a few blocks South of the New Museum and North of Chinatown. “This has been a great creative incubator space to be part of historically. There are all of these kind of amazing individual artists who are located on the Bowery. And that is obviously evolved as the city changes, but we’ve been in this neighbourhood for almost ten years and I feel like I have a nice affinity with the other creatives in this area. But also in the context of Chinatown and Little Italy, I think it’s just a very interesting part of Manhattan to be in, even though it is changing rapidly.”
“The interesting thing about practicing in New York city is that is an Island. It has a certain fine dimension to it. Which creates a congestion and density of people. No matter what, there is always going to be a certain intensity that is part of the city’s DNA. That will never change. 04:00 I think, what does change are the individuals and different communities that grow, expand, migrate or leave. There is just a constant flux of energy thats interesting to be in the mix with.” That will never change. I think, what does change is that, you know the individuals. The kind of communities, sort of equal and expander, migrator lead.
Needless to say, rapid change is seen more often in larger cities and that is exactly what makes them so interesting. “There is a certain unknown quality about them. I’ve grown up in a small town, so I’ve always been fascinated by indeterminacy of cities and being able to live in a place that from one way to another you don’t really what is going to happen when you walk out of the door.
“I’ve been fortuned to live around the world: Shanghai, New York, Paris and I’ve spend a lot of time in Los Angeles. They’ve all been very informative experiences for me. Also in terms of understanding how architecture needs to relate to different cultures, different contacts and that each city is unique. Even though we do have a certain expectation that there is a global cosmopolitan culture that connects all these different kind of cities.”
The “Float tank 01” was part of the exposition; Architecture Effects at the Guggenheim museum in Bilboa. An exhibition of architecture, art, and storytelling in the reappraisal of a timeless question: What makes architecture more than just building? - It effects.
“The show itself, was a group show which pared contemporary art with contemporary architecture practices, examining these different objects, that somehow, exemplified new aesthetic experiences or artistic practices that have involved out of contemporary culture.”
“We are quite often looking to art and artists as a way to interpret the world that we’re experiencing. And so we draw a lot of inspiration from contemporary art, both in terms of new aesthetic experiences as well as in trying to drive meaning from the things we are encountering every day.”