Hong Kong Launches Design Competition For M+ Museum

M+ To Be On Par, Size-Wise, With Museum Of Modern Art In New York

The West Kowloon Cultural District has been in the works for years

Scheduled for completion in 2017 in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), the as-yet-unbuilt M+ museum project — an integral part of the city’s aim to become a major cultural, rather than simply a financial, hub — is already one of the most talked-about developments in the Asian art world. Expected to comprise around 60,000 square meters (comparable to New York’s Museum of Modern Art), the museum will be situated on a 14-hectare park on the waterfront of Victoria Harbor and one of 17 arts and cultural venues in the WKCD.

So far, Hong Kong city administrators have green-lit HK$21.6 billion (US$2.8 billion) into the WKCD in the hopes of reshaping Hong Kong into “an integrated arts and cultural district with world-class arts and cultural facilities.” To ensure that the M+ building is as visually striking as it is important to the district’s success, this week the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced the launch of a museum design competition, putting out the call to designers in Hong Kong and around the world.

From the WKCDA:

The physical design of M+ will be shaped around the museum’s core values. Principally it will be a museum for the Hong Kong people, firmly rooted in the location and its unique culture, providing a Hong Kong perspective, with a global vision, expanding to other regions of China, Asia and the rest of the world. It will provide space for artists to meet, exhibit and experiment. It will house a world-class permanent visual culture collection of Hong Kong, Chinese, Asian and beyond in all its forms, providing and presenting multiple flexible platforms for multidisciplinary programming, exploring art, design, architecture and the moving image, celebrating the fluidity between the art forms that is characteristic of Asia’s cultural ecology. M+ also aims to complement the ‘white cubes’ and ‘black boxes’ of the contemporary art museum with ‘third spaces’ – new formats of interactive space and new interfaces between public space and back-of-house where learning is prioritised.

Facilities will include over 15,000 square metres of exhibition space and 14,000 square metres for conservation and storage, an education centre, an archive library and bookstore, theatres and screen facilities, artist-in-residence studios and outdoor green spaces, subject to the future detailed design.

Deadline for submission of an expression of interest is October 15, 2012. In December, up to six design teams will be shortlisted and invited to submit concept designs by the WKCDA Board. According to the WKCDA, the authority is “looking for a concept design that is original, sustainable, cost effective, and aligns with the ambitions of M+ and the overall planning intention of WKCD.” Upon being appointed next summer, the winning design team will work with M+ and the WKCDA to develop the detailed design for the building.

Included in Uli Sigg's collection: Geng Jianyi "The Second Situation" (1987)

Submissions will be reviewed by eight jurors, chaired by Pritzker Prize-winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Jurors include Eve Blau, Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director of Museum of Modern Arts New York;  William Lim, leading Hong Kong architect; Victor Lo, Chairman of Board of Directors, Hong Kong Design Centre;  Leslie Lu, leading Hong Kong architect; Lars Nittve, Executive Director, M+;  and Uli Sigg, the world’s leading collector of Chinese contemporary art.

As Jing Daily noted in June, Sigg’s participation in the M+ project, and decision to donate over 1,000 pieces — valued conservatively at US$163 million — from his vast collection to the museum, has given it (and the WKCD project itself) a massive boost in credibility and visibility. Randian Online pointed out that M+ will reportedly dedicate over 5,000 square meters to the “M+ Sigg Collection” during the first three years of its opening, while M+ will, beginning this year, also be engaged with the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) founded by Sigg in 1997, as well as the linked Art Critic Award.


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