Hong Kong, Asia’s Fastest Growing Cultural Hub

West Kowloon Cultural District And The Central Police Station Project

Phase 1 of the West Kowloon Cultural District is expected to be completed by 2016

Phase 1 of the West Kowloon Cultural District is expected to be completed by 2016

Last January, Jing Daily reported on initial plans for the West Kowloon Cultural District, or WKCD, a proposed 40 hectare site along the Victoria Harbour, incorporating concert halls, theaters, an arts museum, and a performance venue. With plans for the Central Police Station project, aiming to refurbish the historical site into a cultural venue, released this month, Hong Kong is looking to house a burgeoning cultural community.

Proposed WKCD master plans by three different architectural firms have recently been released by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, in stage two of their Public Engagement process. After receiving feedback from various members of the public and groups across the city, the three firms – Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Foster + Partners and Rocco Design Architects Limited – have each laid out a conceptual plan, viewable on the WKCD Authority website. In this second stage of the Public Engagement exercise, the District Authority will be gathering feedback through online surveys, available through November 20, 2010. One of the plans will be selected, though aspects of the other plans, based on feedback collected, may also be considered. The selected architecture firm will then create a detailed master plan, which will be unveiled in the project’s third Public Engagement phase, scheduled for 2011. The public will be involved in this phase as well.

While this Public Engagement process is prolonging the actual construction period, in many respects it is a smart move, building potential buzz in the architectural world as well as laying groundwork for a stronger cultural atmosphere. By engaging the public and creating a district catering to their interests, Hong Kong has gotten a leg up from other cities in Asia by fostering the growth of its cultural community.

The CPS project is intended to transform a collection of historically significant buildings into a centre of heritage, arts and leisure facilities for the local community and overseas visitors (Photo: CPS project)

The CPS project is intended to transform a collection of historically significant buildings into a centre of heritage, arts and leisure facilities for the local community and overseas visitors (Photo: CPS project)

The Central Police Station project is heating up as well, as the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust is aiming to transform the historical site into a cultural center for locals and overseas visitors. The site consists of three historical monuments, including the Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and the Victoria Prison compound. A key element of the Government’s “Conserving Central” initiative, the design plan aims to adapt as well as compliment the historical structures in Hong Kong while creating a sustaining cultural landmark. The CPS project, in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron, Purcell Miller Tritton, and Rocco Design Architects Limited, had launched with an extensive public engagement project between October 2007 and April 2008; the new design incorporates responses to that feedback, which indicated that 84% of respondents felt that the CPS was a valuable heritage site that should be revitalized.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club commissioned the Asia Art Archive (AAA) to study the community and put together a proposal for the contemporary visual art programs for the site. The AAA suggested a cultural complex including a museum and exhibition gallery. The proposal from AAA was submitted earlier this year for review and in July, curator David Elliot, (previously from the Mori Art Museum in Japan), was appointed as arts advisor to develop the arts programming and funding. The new design for the site, released on October 11, retains 16 of the original 19 buildings, opening up new space as well as housing exhibition galleries and a multi-purpose venue.

After a review by the Environmental Protection Department, there will be an additional invitation three-week period of public comment, with construction slated to begin in 2011 and operations commencing in 2014. Jing Daily will be eagerly watching the progress of these two separate projects, as their completion within the next five years will not only draw attention to Hong Kong’s emerging cultural scene but provide a large-scale venue for international arts and culture programs and initiatives.

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Art & Auction, Culture