Location: West Kowloon Cultural Centre, Hong Kong
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron and Farrells
Main Contractor: director: Suhanya Raffel
In 1996, Hong Kong Tourism Board’s survey for visiting tourists in Hong Kong revealed that people thought the city lacked cultural opportunities. Within two years, the Board proposed new venues for art exhibitions and other cultural events, eventually turning into the establishment of the West Kowloon Cultural Centre. Through the years, the district has undergone a few major development projects, including Xiqu Centre, Freespace and Nursery Park. New architectural works and areas are constantly added to the Centre, enriching the cultural experience of visitors. They often cater for different audiences and cover the interests of different groups of people, ensuring everyone can have an enjoyable time there.
In 2021, it is expected that a new project named the M+ Museum will be completed in the area. According to the official sources, “M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture”, treating culture with open-mindedness and a global vision. Being an art museum, it comprises a wide variety of artworks covering a large range of artistic media, including sketches, electronic media, installation, objects, painting, photography, architectural models, printed matter, sculpture and time-based intangibles. It is intended to rival top-tier modern art museums around the world such as MoMA, Tate Modern, and Centre Pompidou.
The concept behind the architectural design was laid down by Herzog & de Meuron and Farrells, two architectural firms founded in 1978 and 1965 respectively. They won the design contest for the museum in 2013, hence their work was chosen by the developer. The two firms are also responsible for notable pieces of architectural work all around the world including the Allianz Arena in Munich, Beijing National Stadium in Beijing and The Deep aquarium in Hull.
The major form on the exterior of the building takes up an upside-down T shape, with the button horizontal slab being 3-storeys tall, housing the major public facilities and exhibition spaces. Going into detail of each floor, the entrance foyer is surrounded by four enclosed spaces containing a shop, lecture space, resource centre and gallery space and diagonally cut by a lightwell that contains the museum's main circulation. The floor above this contains the majority of the gallery spaces, while a semi-submerged basement level contains additional gallery space along with a shop and cafe overlooking the bay.
A series of skylights above cuts through the floor plates and were designed to allow light into the main circulation spaces.
This wide and relatively short section of the building is juxtaposed with the top portion where the building turns into a slim tower. This section of the building will involve office spaces, restaurants, bars as well as a sky garden on top. Although taking up a more commercial purpose, the whole building is a system where different parts flow through one another, allowing a connected and fresh environment. Herzog & de Meuron have stated that, the precise urban shape reiterates the iconic character of Kowloon’s skyline on one hand, yet on the other hand, this convention is subverted by the transmitted message of the art, visible from afar, which will consequently make M+ a site of constant renewal, rather than being locked into a predefined form.
As a museum, it is evident that the designers paid attention to the connection between the building and its visitors, allowing a seamless visiting experience while painting an artistic environment, matching the expectations of the people as they come to the Centre. The forward-thinking design will stand the test of time, representing Hong Kong as a city with rich and diverse culture.
M+ Museum in Hong Kong announces 2021 opening (Elly Parsons, 13 March 2021), for Wallpaper https://www.wallpaper.com/architecture/m-museum-hong-kong-2021-opening
Herzog & de Meuron's M+ museum completes in Hong Kong (Tom Ravenscroft, 16 March 2021), for Dezeen magazine https://www.dezeen.com/2021/03/16/m-museum-west-kowloon-cultural-district-herzog-de-meuron-farrells/
Photography by Kris Provoost, via Archdaily https://www.archdaily.com/942384/herzog-and-de-meurons-m-plus-museum-photographed-through-the-lens-of-kris-provoost