West Kowloon Cultural District
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|Location||West Kowloon, Yau Tsim Mong, Kowloon, Hong Kong|
|Owner||West Kowloon Cultural District Authority|
|Type||Visual arts, performing arts and educational venues|
|Built||22 July 2016 (M+ Pavilion)|
|Construction cost||At least HKD$ 21.6 billion|
|West Kowloon Cultural District|
The West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is a development project that aims to form an international-grade arts and culture hub on an area of land in West Kowloon, Hong Kong that was originally reclaimed in the 1990s as part of the Airport Core Programme. Located at the wedge-shaped waterfront reclaimed land west of Yau Ma Tei, the district will feature a new museum of visual culture, numerous theatres, concert halls and other performance venues under the management of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, which is directly financed by the government with an upfront endowment of HK$21.6 billion for construction and operation.
The West Kowloon Cultural District is the largest arts and cultural project in Hong Kong to date. Comprising 40 hectares, the district will include 17 core arts and cultural venues as well as space for arts education. This includes a flagship museum of contemporary visual culture, M+ Museum, designed by TFP Farrells and Herzog & de Meuron. WKCD will be developed in two phases with construction having already commenced. Although the hardware has yet to be completed, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has started its software development. Its first culture event is the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre at the future site of Xiqu Centre in 2012. “Mobile M+: Yau Ma Tei”, a contemporary art exhibition is the second program held by the Authority, which is the first in a series of pre-opening “nomadic” exhibition curated by M+ before the completion of the museum building in 2017.
The early proposal of the project was overturned in 2006 due to doubts on financing models, criticism of property developer involvement, lack of planning, and criticism of the design by Foster and Partners that included an expensive canopy structure. Despite of pledge by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa to create a "landmark cultural development project," the initial plan was criticized as too costly and lack of vision. The assessment panel, made up of senior civil servants only, was unrepresentative and unresponsive to the public. As the project returned to track in 2006, the Hong Kong government established the Consultative Committees to formulate a Recommendation Report to decide what facilities to offer and how they would be managed in the WKCD. In 2007, a three-month public consultation were being carried out again and the early stages were completed in December 2007 to decide what facilities to offer and how they would be managed. The project was first proposed to attract tourists to Hong Kong, but the focus of discussion thereafter has turned to the benefits for the local residents, both intellectually and economically.
In early 2011, it was expected that the first phase of the project will open from 2015, and the second phase from 2026.
The wedge-shaped development site is 40 hectares in area, lies within the Yau Tsim Mong District and is bounded by Canton Road in the east, the Western Harbour Crossing entrance and Austin Road West in the north, and Victoria Harbour in the west and south.
In 1996, the Hong Kong Tourism Board took a survey of tourists visiting Hong Kong. The survey suggested that many of the tourists thought Hong Kong was lacking in cultural opportunities. The Hong Kong Tourism Board made a suggestion to Legco in 1998, proposing that new venues for art exhibitions and other cultural events be established. In the Chief Executive's Policy Address of 1998, Tung Chee Hwa proposed the establishment of the West Kowloon Cultural District, hoping to develop Hong Kong as the hub for Culture and Art of Asia.
An international design competition was organised in April 2001 to design the district and the ten-member judge panel selected the gigantic canopy design scheme submitted by Foster and Partners as the winner under eight aspects, which included "skillful integration of complexes", "singularity of image" and "viability".Leslie E. Robertson Associates were structural engineers for the concept design. However, the design was scrapped in 2005 due to intense public criticism.
Invitation for proposal
On 5 September 2003, the government announced an Invitation For Proposals for the Development of the district. While the government required provision of certain specified facilities, proponents were allowed considerable freedom in developing viable proposals — in the other words, the developers can sell residents and office space located in the lot for profit as long as they fulfil the government's requirements:
Three theatres with at least 2,000, 800 and 400 seats respectively; A performance venue with at least 10,000 seats; A cluster of four museums at least 75,000 square metres in size; An art exhibition centre at least 10,000 square metres in size; A water amphitheatre; At least four piazzas; and A canopy covering at least 55% of the development area.
Three proposals respectively submitted by Dynamic Star International Limited, Sunny Development Limited and World City Culture Park Limited were then consulted with the public from December 2004 to June 2005 in order to select the final proposal. Here are the shortlisted designs as presented during the six-month public consultation in 2005:
Dynamic Star International's design
First public consultation
The Executive Summary of the consultation report showed the single-packaged development approach, the canopy, the government supervision and the concept of the project most concerned and discussed in the open questions on the consultation form. The report noted there was strong opposition to the single-packaged development approach and there was a fear that the WKCD project could evolve into an ordinary property development project. Over half of the written submissions were against the canopy.
As the government renewed conditions for the development, the shortlisted proponents failed to renew their proposals and Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan said the much-criticised giant canopy – centrepiece of the winning design by architect Lord Foster – would be scrapped with the entire to start all new by a review of the basic facilities to be offered.
The government appointed members to the Consultative Committee on the Core Arts and Cultural Facilities (CACF) of WKCD on 6 April 2006 and the committee was scheduled to last until June 2007. It re-examined and re-confirmed the need for the CACF for the WKCD as defined in the Invitation for Proposals issued in September 2003.
Stage 1 Public Engagement Exercise
Stage 1 Public Engagement Exercise was conducted between 8 October 2009 to 7 January 2010, lasting for three months. At this stage, the WKCDA held public forums and focus group meetings in order to understand the views and needs of the stakeholders and the public. Around 66 public engagement events were held.
Stage 2 Public Engagement Exercise
Following the Stage 1 of the PE exercise, Stage 2 PE exercise involves gaining feedbacks from the public and various shareholders on the Conceptual Plans prepared by three master planning teams. These planning teams have incorporated public views they learnt in Stage 1 into their conceptual plans.
The three conceptual plans were unveiled on 20 August 2010 by the WKCD Authority.
- City Park – prepared by Foster + Partners, led by Lord Norman Foster;
- Cultural Connect: Key to Sustained Vitality – prepared by Rocco Design Architects Limited, led by Mr Rocco Yim; and
- Project for a New Dimension – prepared by Office for Metropolitan Architecture, led by Mr Rem Koolhaas.
The Stage 2 Public Engagement exercise lasted for three months and run until 20 November 2010.
City Park – Foster + Partners
Cultural Connect: – Rocco Design Architects Limited
Project for a New Dimension – Office for Metropolitan Architecture
Master plan selection
On 4 March 2011, Foster + Partners' plan, 'City Park had been selected as the master plan out of the three entries. Ronald Arculli – the head of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority as well as the selection board – states that the master plan will be submitted to the Town Planning Board at the end of 2011; construction will start as soon as 4Q 2012. The first phase of WKCD will be able to finish by the end of 2015. The plan was originally costed at HK$21.6 billion; in October 2011, the government revised its cost estimates upwards, saying it would cost over $29 billion.
Stage 3 Public Engagement Exercise
The WKCD's Stage 3 Public Engagement Exercise began on 30 September 2011 at the Thematic Exhibition Gallery in the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre. The focal point of the exhibition was a giant 1:250 physical model, showing how the future arts hub will look like, featuring major arts and cultural as well as other facilities. To enhance public understanding of the plans, there will also be a digital 3D model, photomontages and panels displaying key information and features. Pamphlets were distributed at the exhibition, allowing the public to leave their comments. The plan – with public consultation until 30 October – goes to the Town Planning Board, which may give the go-ahead by the end of next year.
The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) is currently adopting a pragmatic approach to implement the project, which would deliver the West Kowloon Park and core arts and cultural facilities of the project under three batches.
Batch 1 facilities (target completion by 2018)
Temporary Nursery Park
Opened in July 2015, the temporary Nursery Park is located at the Northwest part of the WKCD site, where originally planned to be the location for a Mega Performance Venue and an Exhibition Centre.
The Nursery Park features a few lawns, a pet zone and is a testing ground for plants in the future park.
The Nursery Park is where Freespace Happening, the WKCDA regular event, takes place.
The park includes M+ Pavilion, Freespace and The Lawn. Designed by Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers (Hong Kong) with West 8 (Netherlands) and ACLA (Hong Kong), the park is targeted to open in phases from 2017 to 2018.
Designed by VPANG + JET + Lisa Cheung, the M+ Pavilion is the first completed permanent venue in the WKCD. The pavilion provides exhibition space for M+ before the completion of the nearby museum building.
The pavilion is inaugurated with the exhibition '
Nothing' by Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin-Wah in September 2016.
Freespace will provide a black box theatre that can accommodate standing and seated programmes, a large lawn where an outdoor stage can be set up for festivals and events, and a foyer lounge. Freespace is scheduled to open in 2019
The M+ Museum will focus on four elements – design, popular culture, moving images and visual art.
In June 2010 it was announced that the executive director of the museum will be Lars Nittve. Nittve was the founder director of the Tate Modern in London. He took up his new post in January 2011 for a three-year term. Early in his tenure he promises to liaise with local arts stakeholders to overcome his admitted unfamiliarity with the Hong Kong arts scene.
In July 2012, Uli Sigg announced a donation of his 1,463-work collection of contemporary Chinese art, valued at $163 million, which is planned to serve as the centrepiece of the M+'s new collection when it opens in 2017. The museum bought 47 other works for $23 million.
In 2013, the Pritzker Prize-winning architectural team Herzog & de Meuron and TFP Farrells was chosen to design the $642 million museum, beating out competitors who included Renzo Piano and Toyo Ito. The horizontal section of the T-shaped building will offer 183,000 square feet of exhibition space, while the vertical bar, devoted to offices, storage and education, is to have an LED lighting system that can showcase artwork.
The M+ building is targeted to open in 2019.
Batch 2 facilities (target completion by around 2020)
Lyric Theatre Complex
The Lyric Theatre Complex will be the major performing art venue in the WKCD. The Complex comprises a 1,450 seat theatre, a 600 seat medium theatre. and a 250 seat studio theatre. A Resident Company Centre and extensive rehearsal facilities will be situated in the Complex as well.
The Lyric Theatre Complex is scheduled for completion in 2021.
Centre for Contemporary Performance
The centre will include two Black Boxes.
Batch 3 facilities (target completion beyond 2020)
- Hong Kong Palace Museum
- On 23 December 2016, Carrie Lam, the chair of WKCDA, has announced in Beijing that the southern part of the original land for the Mega Performance Venue and Exhibition Centre will be built a new Hong Kong Palace Museum. Occupying around 10,000 square metres, the floor area of the new Palace Museum is estimated at 30,500 square metre, housing two exhibition galleries, activity rooms, a 400-seat lecture theatre, souvenir shops and restaurants. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust will donate HKD$ 3.5 billion for the design, construction and exhibition preparation works of the museum. Rocco Yim, a Hong Kong architect, is commissioned to design the Palace Museum. The foundation and construction works is expected to begin in 2017, and the museum is estimated to be open in 2022.
- Musical Theatre (2,000 seat)
- Great Theatre
- Music Centre (including Concert Hall and Recital Hall)
- Medium Theatre (includes a 600 seat theatre)
- M+ Phase II
- Xiqu Small Theatre
Under Consideration for Alternative Use
Mega Performance Venue (MPV) and Exhibition Centre
The MPV was planned as a performance venue with 15,000 seats. The board of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has decided that site of the current Nursery Park will not be the MPV. The authority is now considering to develop the northern part of this coastal land as a middle-sized multipurpose venue for exhibition, convention and performance through private finance initiative.
West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade
Part of the site is used as a temporary promenade (West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade) managed by Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which can be accessed immediately to the east of Western Harbour Crossing toll booths, or via a pedestrian entrance close to the bus station to the west of the toll booths. Bicycles are available for hire, intended for riding along a short waterfront cycle track, which will be removed when the site is developed.
West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre
On 18–24 January 2012, the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre was held at the junction of Canton Road and Austin Road West (the future site of the Xiqu Centre). It was the first cultural event organised by WKCDA to mark the launch of the design and construction stage of the district. The event was a combination of traditional Cantonese opera, contemporary visual art installations and film shows in collaboration with the Chinese Artist Association of Hong Kong and various renowned visual artists, attracted around 12,000 participants in 7 days.
WKCDA plans to make the Bamboo Theatre an annual event, extending the period to three weeks in 2013 to include other forms of performing arts including contemporary Chinese music and dance performances.
Freespace Fest is a two-day contemporary music and performing arts festival held annually, starting from 2012, at Freespace, the future performance venue situated inside the West Kowloon Cultural District Park for live music and cross-boundary performances opening in 2015/16. Freespace Fest includes contemporary music programmes, street performances and other experimental performing arts events.
Programmes and events
On 27 August 2012, the Authority announced a handful of events to “bring life and people to the district” before a tree nursery and the park construction begin at the headland next year.
|Event Date||Event Name||Venue||Organiser|
|1 November 2012 – 4 November 2012||Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival||West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade||Hong Kong Tourism Board|
|1 December 2012 – 2 December 2012||Clockenflap Music & Arts Festival||West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade||Clockenflap|
|15 December 2013 – 16 December 2013||Freespace Fest||West Kowloon Cultural District (Park)||WKCDA|
|21 January 2013 – 11 February 2013||Song Dong: 36 Calendars||TBC||WKCDA and Asia Art Archive|
|17 January 2014 – 9 February 2014||West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre||Junction of Canton Road and Austin Road West (Xiqu Centre)||WKCDA|
|23 March 2013 – 2 June 2013||Mobile M+: INFLATION!||West Kowloon Cultural District||WKCDA|
|Legal status||Statutory authority|
|Carrie Lam GBS, JP|
The WKCD Authority was established under the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Ordinance, Cap 601 to develop the West Kowloon Cultural district that came into action on 11 July 2008. The authority is made up of the board, committees and executive board directors.
A Board of Directors was appointed to position in October 2008. Its chairman was Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen. While government officials and experts were recruited to aid the authority operation temporarily, executives and managers were recruited to independently manage the operation.
The authority has an executive team of seven. Its first Executive Director (Project Delivery), Angus Cheng Siu-chuen, a former executive at Hong Kong Disneyland, was appointed in June 2009 but resigned for 'personal reasons' less than two weeks after taking up the post. Project Director Augustine Ng Wah-keung then led the project on a provisional basis.
On 24 March 2010, Graham Sheffield, formerly artistic director of London's Barbican Centre, was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the authority on a three-year, HK$3.5 million-a-year contract. However, on 7 January 2011, he too suddenly resigned for "health reasons", just five months after arriving in the job, and was not available to talk to the media. A recruitment exercise to replace Sheffield as chief executive was expected to be launched quickly.
The impact of the two top-level resignations worried art critics and a member of the Legislative Council's home affairs panel, Tanya Chan, who feared that candidates for the job could be deterred by the apparent problems with the project, which could be delayed by a year, to 2020.
On 27 May 2011, Michael Lynch, the former Chief Executive of the London’s Southbank Centre, was appointed as CEO of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority by Hong Kong's chief secretary Henry Tang. Lynch resigned in 2015, citing family reasons, and was replaced by Duncan Pescod, the authority's incumbent chief operating officer.
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- Pao, Jeff (21 July 2015). "Pescod named CEO of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority". Hong Kong Economic Journal.
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