I've heard and read in bits and pieces about what's come to be called the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) for a while but I never visited the site after actual construction of the relevant facilities began in earnest. Yesterday, I did so.
I first had to cross the highway serving the Western Harbour Crossing tunnel from the Kowloon Station of the MTR's Tung Chung Line to the seafront
The red building the left of the overhead pedestrian walkway is the site of the WKCD Authority, a statutory body established with an endowment of some HKD21.6 billion in 2008 for the purposes of planning and implementing projects for the development of the 40-hectare WKCD to enhance the cultural life of the HKSAR. It's current CEO is Duncan Pescod, its former Chief Operating Officer who took over the post when the Australian arts administrator Michael Lynch appointed in 2011 resigned in 2015 amidst political controversy over the interests of different local art and culture related groups. According to the official website of the Home Affairs Department, the WKCD "aims to promote the development of arts and culture, meet the growing cultural needs of the public and strengthen Hong Kong’s position as an international arts and cultural metropolis" and will include some "17 core arts and cultural venues as well as space for arts education.."
To the left of the site, there's a typhoon shelter for various dumb lighters connected with the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
Rising high behind the site of the WKCD are the HSBC Yau Tsim Mong District Branch. At its side are the luxurious tower blocks of the Island Harbour View.
Various boats moored along the seafront
This is the famous" wind chime corridor" at the western side of what's called the "West Kowloon Seafront Promenade".It's ground are now overgrown with grass and weeds.
One gets a panorama view of the western portion of our famous harbor..
This is the corner of the wind chime corridor
The corridor continues on the southern side of the Promenade
To the left of the photo is a view of the Western District of Hong Kong Island and to the right the western New Territories.
Various cranes involved in building some of the facilities of the WKCD. According to the published plans, building will come in three phases.
In the first phase, expected to be completed by 2018, the following will be built:
(1) a Temporary Nursery Park, at the northwestern part of the site, with a few lawns, a pet zone and an experimental nursery for plants. Parts of it have been completed and have been open to the public since July, 2015 It's where regular "Freespace Happening" will take place.
(2) Art Park including
(a) a T-shaped M+ Pavilion (focusing on 20th and 21st centuries visual art, architecture, design, pop culture, film, video and other moving images, opening in September 2016). A collection of more than 1,400 contemporary Chinese art works, estimated to be worth $163 million, has been announced in 2012 to be donated to M+ by the collector Uli Sigg. The collection will form part of the permanent collection of the museum. In addition, the museum has already acquired 47 other art works at a cost of $23 million. The M+ now has more than 6,000 art works in all. The HKD642 million museum is designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architectural team Herzog & de Meuron and TFP Farrell.
(b) Freespace (which includes a black box theatre, with standing and seating spaces, a foyer lounge, plus a lawn where an outdoor stage can be set up: expected to be completed by 2019)
In January 2012, a weeklong West Kowloon "Bamboo Theatre" was held here to celebrate the start of building works at the WKCD at the site of the future Xigu Centre: a combination of traditional Cantonese opera, contemporary visual art installations and film shows, drawing in some 12,000 spectators. It's planned that every year, a similar event lasting 3 weeks will be held with the additions of Chinese music and dance performances etc. and a two-day Free Space Festival will be also held there for contemporary music and performing arts, street art and other related artistic activities by artists from both Hong Kong and China.
The second phase, expected to be completed by 2021, will add to the WKCD
(1) The Lyric Theatre Complex with three components viz. a 1,450-seat theatre, a 600-seat medium theatre and a 250-seat studio theatre plus a A Resident Company Centre with extensive rehearsal facilities.
(2) a Centre for Contemporary Performance with two Black Boxes.
In phase 3, with no specific dates except that it would be after 2020, the following will be built:
(1) the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum, announced in Dec, 2016 by our current CE, then chairman of the WKCD Authority, at the southern tip of the 10,000 square metres site, originally reserved for building a "Mega Performance Venue"( "MPV") and Exhibition Centre". The new HK Palace Museum is expected to have 30,500 square metre of floor space and will house two exhibition galleries plus activity rooms, souvenir shops and a restaurant and a 400-seat lecture theatre,. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust will donate HKD$ 3.5 billion for its design, construction and exhibition preparation works. Rocco Yim, a Hong Kong architect has been commissioned to design the Palace Museum. The foundation and construction works are expected to begin this year and the WKCD Authority hopes to inaurguate it 2022. But it now looks unlikely.
(2) a 2,000 seat Musical Theatre
(3) a Great Theatre
(4) a Music Centre with Concert Hall and Recital Hall
(5) a 600-seat Medium Theatre
As a result of the sudden interposition of the HK Palace Museum project upon the original plans for the site, the WKCD Authority is now considering switching the site of the originally planned MPV from the current Nursery Park to the northern part of WKCD and build there a medium-sized multipurpose venue for exhibition, convention and performance through private finance initiative.
In addition, there may be an M+ Phase 2 and a Xiqu Small Theatre. A lot of uncertanties now overhang the possible future of the WKCD..
Is this an image of the future of the WKCD? Little on the ground, plenty of dark clouds overhead but with bright spots too.
Whatever the future may hold, it's life as usual for the boats plying our harbor.
and trees continue to seek air, light and growth, whatever the obstacles human beings may put in their way.
and the clouds continue to hug our sky line.
Building works seem never to cease in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong continues to be dominated by huge corporations, financial instutons, big property developers and multi-nationals.
But the sky, the clouds, the grass and trees are indifferent.
They continue to lie there, quietly growing, breathing, changing, moving according to their own rhythms, the same way they have done for millions of years past.
The tunnels and MTR trains need to breathe too.
Beneath the towering clouds, on the fence are a row of posters for the "Canton Express", a retro-recreation of the 37 works of 14 avant garde Canton artists who exhibited at the 50th Venice Bienniale in 2003, donated to M+ in 2013 by the collector Guan Yi.
Glass,steel and concrete
Reflections on the exterior of the M+ Museum
The M+ is a T-shape structure with a long horizontal arm for exhibition attached to a tall vertical plate like rear block housing the museum 's growing collections and administrative offices
The not entirely even surface of the glass panels creates strange s patterns of its surroundings.
More magic of reflective distortions.
The stairs leading up to the entrance of the M+ Museum