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From biking to inspiring documentaries—here's what fuels architect Alan Hung's creativity.
Having lived in various cities worldwide, including Los Angeles, Vienna, Shanghai and Vancouver, I prefer getting around on a bike. It gives me a unique perspective of the city and lets me explore different corners of each place. I also appreciate the design of bikes, with various geometries for different types of bikes. The combination of aesthetic and function in bikes is a testament to modern-day genius in product design.
Nothing is impossible: I started my own studio late in my career, and this documentary and book by Nirmal Purja provided me with immense inspiration. It’s truly motivating how Purja achieved supposedly impossible missions—summiting all 14 of the world’s 8,000-metre mountains—in just over six months. When I encounter obstacles or need an unconventional approach to design, Purja’s book reminds me not to let others tell me it’s not possible.
When I’m stuck in my work, I enjoy listening to Amy Devers’s podcast, Clever. She interviews designers and entrepreneurs (like designer Bryan Costello, pictured above) who share their career journeys and experiences. Hearing their success stories encourages me to keep going in my own journey.
Having a good cup of coffee boosts my creativity. When I lived in Vienna, my favourite spot for a cup of coffee was Café Sperl. This café has long been a hub where artists, architects, writers and many other creatives socialize and spark new ideas. I enjoy both brainstorming with friends and sitting alone, sketching out new designs.
Japanese gardens provide me with a sense of peace, almost like meditation; they clear my mind. During my visit to Kyoto, I was captivated by the beautiful garden at Kōdai-ji Temple, which features styles like a rock garden, a tsukiyama-style garden and a bamboo grove. As I strolled through the garden, I felt like time had stopped, offering a break from the busy world we face every day. It was like hitting a reset button to get rid of negative energy.
For me, architecture is like a conversation between humans and nature, and the seven-acre residential development by Arthur Erickson is my favourite example of West Coast architecture. There are 20 single-family homes built on a challenging sloped site, each designed to blend in with the natural surroundings. When I’m designing architecture, Montiverdi Estates is my go-to reference for creating a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces and harmonizing the building with nature.
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