The Revival of The Gingko House

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

Gingko House is a local social enterprise, known for their work in providing employment opportunities for the elderly. However faced with lease problems they were forced to move their restaurant. Groundwork was thus invited to help redesign and rebrand their new Vietnamese restaurant located in a sixty year old building called Alhambra Building in Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong.

Picture courtesy: Groundwork Architects

The Gingko Struggle: Since its establishment in 2003, Gingko House has provided employment

opportunities for more than 3,000 elderly.


In 2016, Gingko House lost their lease of their main restaurant and they were desperate to find a new space. Hong Kong is rated as one of the most expensive cities to live in the world and has one of the highest real-estate prices, therefore opening a new restaurant in Hong Kong is an extremely difficult task. Jeffrey Kwok, founder of a local advertising company (PMM Media) which promotes social enterprises, had learned of the difficulties that Gingko House was facing. Jeffrey persuaded his father to lease out one of their units within the Alhambra Building for Gingko House, which has a net floor area of 300 square meters.

Picture courtesy: Groundwork Architects

Not only did Jeffrey’s father agreed to rent out a unit with a net floor area of 300 square meters. He only asked for one-eighth of the market rate as rent, hoping that the low rent would aid Gingko House’s business and facilitate their social causes. Gingko House had chosen Groundwork, to redesign and re-brand their new restaurant not only because of their past successful restaurant design cases, but perhaps for their philosophy and humanistic approach towards architecture.

Picture courtesy: Groundwork Architects

Groundwork has retained the existing wall textile, as much as possible, because the Alhambra Building itself,and Yau Ma Tei, are both aged and shinning. The building and the venue are perfect as the flagship for such a social enterprise. The space has no windows, thus, when you ascend the stairs from street level and enter into this aged realm, it is very possible that one might lost the sense of time. They wish that their customers and visitors, to go back to history, temporarily.
Picture courtesy: Groundwork Architects

They were also the brand builder, responsible for the naming, logo and visual identity of the restaurant. The Chinese name of “Viet-Street” when directly translated into English is actually ”Old Viet-man”. The mascots for Viet-Street are a set of illustrated elderly, proudly declaring how much wiser they are (in Chinese, of course).


Picture courtesy: Groundwork Architects

These slightly grumpy and slightly abrasive individuals (the illustrated mascots) are, of course, telling the truth: as our seniors they are wiser, and very much well-seasoned, their age and wealth of knowledge makes them a better chef and teacher!


They have written: "the older the hotter” at the front door. They mean it; hotness grows with age!


Project Details:


Client: Gingko House (www.gingkohouse.hk)

Floor Area: 300 sqm (approx.)

Budget: 3,500,000 HKD (350,000 GBP)

Firm: Groundwork Architects+Associated Ltd., Hong Kong

Team: Tak Lee, Lawrence Law, Jerry Wong, CY Lau & Manfred Yuen

Photography: Jing Bao

Website: https://www.groundworkarchitect.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/groundwork_architects/


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