Memo From Hong Kong: People Are Talking About
All eyes are currently on the highly anticipated West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) project, which hopes to establish a new cultural quarter in Hong Kong. The site is located on a dramatic harbour in the heart of the city and stretches across 100 acres of reclaimed land, making it one of the largest cultural projects in the world. The first batch of facilities will open to the public between 2015 and 2017 and include the Xiqu Centre designed by Bing Thom Architects and Ronald Lu & Partners; the M+ (museum) by Herzog & de Meuron, TFP Farrells and Arup; and an Arts Pavilion by VPANG Architects, JET Architecture and Lisa Cheung. In preparation, WKCDA has been hosting a variety of small-scale events and competitions, including the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre 2014 and NEONSIGNS.HK.
Another initiative generating buzz is The Central Police Station Revitalisation Project, a partnership between the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron with Arup, and due for completion in 2015, the aim of this project is to transform one of the largest remaining clusters of historically significant buildings in the city—Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison—into a so-called “center for heritage, contemporary art and leisure.” Rumor has it that the Hong Kong Jockey Club will finalize its cultural program this fall.
Local residents, on the other hand, are hoping to welcome much-needed housing projects to the city. Next year, London-based architectural practice Aedas will complete an apartment tower in Mongkok, one of the most densely populated places on the planet. The new building will maximize views via irregular protrusions, allegedly a modern reinterpretation of the illegal iron balconies that were common in the area during early post-war years.
Maximum visibility is also the concern of Rotterdam-based MVRDV‘s Cheung Fai building, a luxurious loft-style office complex slated to be unveiled at the Kwun Tong waterfront later this year. Everything but the primary concrete structure has been replaced with glass and stainless steel infill, completely exposing its infrastructure.