An image of a timber-finned kiosk on the harbor front with skyscrapers visible in the background and a statue visible in front. Overlayed on the picture is the wooden fins both open and closed.
LAAB created the multi-purpose Harbour Kiosk which opens and closes for Hong Kong’s harbor-side Avenue of the Stars. (Courtesy LAAB Architects)

This seaside kiosk in Hong Kong uses robotics armatures for a cinematic effect

Hong Kong-based firm LAAB Architects has realized the robotic Harbour Kiosk along the Avenue of the Stars, a stretch of the city designed as a tribute to Hong Kongese cinema, on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. Originally asked to create a 108-square-foot food kiosk, the architects instead opted to combine the kiosk with a nearby mechanical room. The new 56-foot stretch allowed LAAB to pack in even more functions to the Harbour Kiosk, including a counter, planters, info panels, and drinking fountains.

An array of robotic armatures in front of Hong Kong's harbor with the skyline in view.
49 robotic armatures allow the red balau timber finds to not only open during operating hours and close overnight, but to slowly undulate like the waves in the harbor. (Courtesy LAAB Architects)

To develop the Harbour Kiosk, LAAB spent four years prototyping and optimizing parametric designs. They didn’t just have to create a structure that could not only accommodate the kiosk’s various uses—including housing equipment for the entire Avenue of Stars—but that would be strong enough to withstand typhoon season. 

A wooden kiosk topped with an array of wooden elements.
The facade of the kiosk is made with PEFC-certified red balau wood that has been finished for UV and termites resistance. (Courtesy LAAB Architects)

But perhaps what stands out most is the kiosk’s moving facade. Inspired by local market stalls, red balau timber fins open to grow the kiosk’s size during the day, and close to make it more compact at night. More radically, however, the exterior undulates throughout the day thanks to 49 robotic armatures, which move systematically to mimic the waves in the harbor and help “to establish an emotional connection between the people, the architecture, and the surrounding natural environment,” according to the LAAB team. It was designed to “transform the local street into a kinetic and cinematic scene” in honor of “the action movies that Hong Kong is famous for.”