By Kenza van Lerberghe for IROCO Design.
For those who are new to Hong Kong or for those who have vaguely heard about it, let us dedicate our first blog to the most ambitious project the Hong Kong government has ever undertaken to position itself as a cultural hub to equal New York, London and Paris.
The idea of building an arts and cultural district on reclaimed land in West Kowloon emerged 16 years ago. The project, a master plan by Norman Foster, consists of building 17 arts and cultural venues next to Victoria Habour facing the impressive Hong Kong skyline.
The final plans include theatres, art galleries and music venues running for 2km along the habourfront. The entire site will cover 40 hectares of land, of which 23 hectares are open public space. Below, the new high-speed train station will connect Hong Kong to the southern Chinese metropolis Guanghzou taking a mere 45 minutes.
Expected to be completed in 3 phases the project finally passed conceptualization stage last year with the construction of the first two venues: the M+ and Xiqu Centre, a sleek modern venue where Cantonese opera will be performed.
The M+ Building will be the centre-piece of this multi-dollar West Kowloon project, expected to be open to the public in 2017. Architects Herzog & de Meuron, best known in the region for designing Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, were chosen to design the permanent M+ structure, which will sit at the foot of Hong Kong’s tallest building, the ICC. Two other architectural firms TFP, Farrells and Ove Arup & Partners also joined in the design.
The finished space, about 60,000 sq/m will be on a par with London’s Tate Modern and New York’s MoMA. It will house education facilities, public restaurants and museum offices alongside world-reknowned gallery spaces, with lower ground access to parks and the other 16 cultural venues.
The underlying vision of WKCD is to cross-fertilize the local art scene; a chance to look at the art world from a perspective other than that of Paris or New York; from an Asian perspective.
It goes in line with the hope that it will bring ‘a breath of fresh air’ to Hong Kong’s art scene, moving away from commercial considerations, and placing a greater emphasis on freedom of expression and creativity.
For a video of the area, please check it out here: http://www.westkowloon.hk/en/the-district/architecture-facilities/m-4