The view from Hong Kong with Zaha Hadid architect Sara Klomps.

The view from Hong Kong with Zaha Hadid architect Sara Klomps.

Sara Klomps is Associate Director at Zaha Hadid Architects, famous for their pioneering and ambitious structures around the globe. A German native, Sara first moved abroad as an intern at Zaha Hadid's London headquarters where she worked for 20 years, creating highly awarded projects like the London Aquatics Centre for the Olympic Games. Sara is now based in Hong Kong, leading the high profile 'Murray Road' tower for Zaha Hadid. We spoke to Sara on her move to Hong Kong, global creativity and the city's best spicy food.

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ON WHERE YOU’RE FROM

A small village in south Germany. 

ON WHERE YOU’VE LIVED ABROAD

Dortmund & Karlsruhe in Germany and London UK for the last 20 years. 

ON WHERE YOU’RE LIVING IN HONG KONG

Happy Valley on the island – great name is it not? Close to everything but a little more quiet than Wan Chai or Central. 

ON WINDOW SEAT OR AISLE 

Window. Every time. Who wants to miss things to see!

 

The London Aquatics Centre designed for of the 2012 Olympic Games / Paralympic Games and city of London, is inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion. Architectural design by Sara Klomps and Zaha Hadid Architects. Photography courtesy of Hufton + Crow

ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HONG KONG 

Still adjusting I suppose. Love the weather, the outdoors, the food, the size of the city, the fashion, the shopping. Overwhelmed at times by its density, lack of environmental awareness and the feeling of being an outsider culturally.

ON PROFESSIONAL CULTURE IN HONG KONG 

The cultural differences of how business is conducted fascinate me. As a German I had my first learning experience coming to Britain and getting accustomed to the business culture there which is much more collaborative and inclusive but can also be at times less efficient. Here in Hong Kong work is fast paced but also remains very fluid. Everything is possible whilst at the same time there is a high expectation to deliver. Working and living here definitely increases my professional agility.

The cultural differences of how business is conducted fascinate me. As a German I had my first learning experience coming to Britain and getting accustomed to the business culture there which is much more collaborative and inclusive. 

ON WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT LIVING IN A NEW CULTURE 

The exposure to a new environment, as a foreigner being the outsider which always grants you that extra little space of freedom in a society. Experiencing a new city and its surroundings, new foods and customs, a new language although I suppose Cantonese is a long shot.

ON SOMETHING NEW YOU’VE LEARNED IN CHINA 

Drinking warm water and saying no without saying no.

 

Above: The muli-awarded Phaneo Science Centre in Wolsburg Germany. Architectural design and delivery by Sara Klomps and Zaha Hadid Architects. Below: Hong Kong’s famous architectural skyline from the harbour. Zaha Hadid image courtesy Werner Huthmacher

ON WHERE YOU FIND CREATIVE INSPIRATION 

I am an introvert, I love going on hikes on my own in my free time, preferably in undisturbed nature with a nice beach at the end of it.

ON ADVICE FOR WHEN YOU FIRST MOVE TO HONG KONG 

Go with the flow, avoid causeway bay on the weekends until you’re used to the crowds and invest in some form of waterproof footwear for the summer.

ON A CURRENT PROJECT YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT

Of course this will have to be Murray Road! I am more than excited to be leading such a prestigious project for ZHA, a project in an extraordinary location of Hong Kong and for a client with such a long and respected history of building in this city.

Here in Hong Kong work is fast paced but also remains very fluid. Everything is possible whilst at the same time there is a high expectation to deliver. Working and living here definitely increases my professional agility.

ON BUILDING A GLOBAL CULTURE AT ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS 

We have been and we are a multinational practice and proud of it. We have employees from all over the globe – around 50 nationalities and we work globally – currently in 18 countries. We have offices in London, Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Dubai and Mexico City. Diversity within the company is encouraged and supported, we are always open to change and new influences.

ON YOUR FAVOURITE BUILDING IN HONG KONG 

I am old school – will have to be the Lippo & the HSBC building.

 

The Forest Green Rovers Eco Stadium, designed as the first all timber football stadium with a vision of ecological sustainability. Architectural design by Sara Klomps and Zaha Hadid Architects. Above: Render by MIR. Below: Render by VA

ON A FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IN HONG KONG  

So many to choose from! Since I do like the chilli – Spice House in Amoy Street or Spicy Crab under the bridge in Lockhardt Road.

ON A GREAT EVENT 

The horse races or of course the Chinese new year.

ON A GOOD GALLERY

Shame on me…. Must work less! Made it to the affordable art fair which was great but not much more so far…

ON SOMETHING FROM GERMANY YOU NEED A FIX OF IN HONG KONG

Beer. Readily available everywhere but at a slightly steeper price than London. Other than that not missing an awful lot about the German culture – but I am probably more British by now anyhow.

 

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Nuggets in this interview

neighborhoods

Happy Valley, Hong Kong

"Happy Valley on the island – great name is it not? Close to everything but a little more quiet than Wan Chai or Central".

–Sara Klomps

travel

HSBC Building, Hong Kong

"Favourite building...the Lippo & the HSBC building".

–Sara Klomps

events

Happy Valley Racecource, Hong Kong

"A great event to check out... the horse races".

–Sara Klomps

food and drink

Under Bridge Spicy Crab, Hong Kong

"Since I do like the chilli... Spicy Crab under the bridge in Lockhardt Road".

–Sara Klomps

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