The West Kowloon building has underground railways, cinemas, a mediatheque, and a bigger exhibition floor than the MoMA.
Built on 40 hectares of reclaimed land near Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District is a known hub of arts and culture neighboring the Victoria Harbor. Punctuating this reputation will be the M+, a “museum of visual culture” set to open later in the year.
The structure is designed jointly by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd. and the team of British architect-planner Terry Farrells. Some of the former’s more popular projects are the rehabilitation of Tate Modern in London, the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar, and the Parrish Art Museum in New York.
M+ has a total area of 65,000 square meters, 17,000 of which is allotted for exhibition spaces, slightly more than the 16,000 of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The HK museum’s floor plan makes way for 33 galleries, a Mediatheque, a research center, a learning hub, office spaces, cinemas, and F&B and retail points such as lounges, shops, and cafes, and restaurants. A roof garden will have a view of the HK’s skyline and its famous harbor.
Shaped basically like an inverted T, the structure’s main horizontal slab lifts off the ground to allow pedestrian movement underneath. Over the wide surface over the upper part of the building is an LED lighting display system integrated into the façade’s louvres, This will project works of art visible throughout the Metropolis.
The building is part of a larger plan for West Kowloon, which is being developed by the British international studio for architecture and integrated design Foster + Partners. This firm, said to be the largest in the UK, came into the Philippines two years ago with The Estate Makati.
Herzog & de Meuron’s design shows building connecting with Hong Kong’s Airport Express through an underground tunnel.
“For art to enter into the life of a city like Hong Kong it has to come from below, from its own foundations,” says the firm’s founder Jacques Herzog in an interview with Archdaily.com. “Our M+ Project does exactly that, by literally emerging from the city’s underground.”
Art in the island
Apart from M+ and West Kowloon, there are quite a few new developments in Hong Kong, not the least, of course, is the recently-concluded Art Basel.
After three years of renovation, the Hong Kong Museum of Art now has 40 percent increase in exhibition space as well as upgraded facilities. Its partner, the Friends of Hong Kong Museum of Art, has also launched a city-wide art campaign. Called “Art For Everyone @HKMoA,” it is showcasing over 100 images of artwork over 450 billboards across 18 HK districts. Those not from Hong Kong can download Artforeveryone.hk to view these works.
Hong Kong’s Old Town Central might also be good place to check if you ever find yourself in the city. It is one of the oldest districts on the Island, covering the steep streets and hidden alleys of Central and Sheung Wan. Among the ancient temples, trendy restaurants, and old school tea houses in the neighborhood is a hub of art galleries. In the area, you can also find colorful street murals up against the walls of traditional antique shops and other establishments.
Those interested in learning about Hong Kong art can click on DiscoverHongKong/Art. In addition to providing information such as art itineraries, an event calendar, and interviews with art insiders, the platform also has online showcases and curated virtual experiences.