Inspired by the villages of Asia, the renovation of the MSL Mall in one of the oldest areas of Hong Kong in the Western District, is actually a huge challenge for our design team. Just by looking at the “Before and After” Images, the contrast between the two sets could not be greater.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2024
Third Award | Interiors – Retail (Built)

Project Name: MSL Mall
Category:Interiors – Retail (Built)
Studio Name:
Alexander Wong Architects Limited
Design Team: Alexander Wong (Designer in Chief), Andy Cheung (Project Management), Ming Tan (Interior Design), Chet Xin (Interior Design), Roy Wong (Graphics, Materials & Accessories)
Area: 1,250 sq.m.
Year: 2023
Location: Hong Kong
Consultants: Alexander Wong Architects Limited (and others)
Photography Credits: Josh Tam

©Josh Tam



An Old Neighbourhood Mall In Transformation

A Modern Shopping Village For Our Community


Walter Benjamin

Many old and smaller shopping malls, the first generation of its kind in the urban fabric of a bygone era in Hong Kong, is going through a series of huge transformation, some swankier than others, but the important question to ask is :

©Josh Tam

“Who Is The Mall Built For ?”

Surely not just for the younger generation or the bigger sectors of the consumer pie chart as these malls exist in the midst of communities filled with all age groups including huge social diversity — locals and foreigners, young and old, privileged and socially challenged, abled and disabled, families and singles, animal lovers and many others. So it is really important to create a facility that caters for more than just a few individuals, even though some may never really buy anything from the shops in this mall. The fact of the matter is these non-consumers will traverse through the shopping arcade and therefore will become a part of their communal experiences nevertheless. Everyone should feel a sense of belonging and share the community spirit as much as possible. And they should also feel comfortable in it as well. Not just some foreign invasion of brands which they may or may not wish to be a part of. The challenge here is how to respect existing residents and the culture of its neighbourhood whilst injecting a new energy into the mall. The coexistence of the shops with several entrances to residential units are also critical to its success.

©Josh Tam

Many built in the roaring 50s, 60s and 70s in Hong Kong, these typical ‘Neighbourhood Arcade Malls’ were a first of their kind but certainly a relic of the past now. Many have become old and dilapidated with poor to little maintenance or upkeep. Some have become dark and dirty with glare problems during the day and lack of proper lighting after nightfall. Even the communal toilets were designed right next to an outdoor open yard without any weather protection seem incredibly archaic now.

©Josh Tam

The transformation is nothing less than remarkable. The newly opened MSL Mall is cleaner and brighter. The design of the arcade is modular and contemporary with a touch of Asian aesthetics. It is simple and stylish, warm (from the easy to maintain woodgrain aluminium slats) and friendly. All the shops are easy to find labelled with big circular signage creating a perfect backdrop for introducing brands or businesses new and old alike.