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Farrell with Herzog & de Meuron wins Hong Kong M+ museum

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Terry Farrell, in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron, has beaten stars including Snøhetta and Shigeru Ban to win the contest to design a new museum for Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Culture District (WKCD)

The partnership between the architect’s Asian off-shoot, TFP Farrells, and the Swiss stars was chosen ‘unanimously’ from a six-strong shortlist of top-name designers by the authority’s board to deliver the 60,000m² M+ museum.

Farrell has already worked in West Kowloon, having designed the original masterplan for Kowloon Station and the 1.4 million m2 development above it 15 years ago.

Scheduled to complete in 2017, the new visual art museum will be among the first batch of arts and cultural venues to be completed within the 23 hectare Foster + Partners-masterplanned WKCD development.

Billed as a ‘museum for the Hong Kong people’, the will provide space for artists to meet, exhibit and experiment, as well as housing a ‘world-class permanent visual culture collection’. 

However project backer, the WKCD authority, has already warned that the scheme’s budget will have to be trimmed in the face of rising construction costs.

A spokesperson said the authority was carrying out a ‘rigorous value engineering exercise’ and was ‘negotiating with the selected design team of the M+ museum to lower the project cost as far as practicable, without compromising the overall function and quality of the facilities.’  


At the meeting, the WKCDA Board also reviewed the financial status of the WKCD project and charted the way forward amid concerns about rising construction costs since its inception.

The board noted that the administration had reaffirmed its commitment to developing the WKCD in accordance with the development plan, which had ‘undergone extensive public consultation’ and was approved by the chief executive-in-council in January 2013. 

Despite the challenge presented by cost escalation, the administration and the WKCDA said it was committed to developing the WKCD into a ‘world-class hub of arts and culture’. The board resolved to adopt a pragmatic approach to develop facilities [which originally included 17 venues] that are fit for purpose, which will be implemented according to the following principles –

1.       Rigorous cost containment of individual facilities to a level as close to the original budget as possible;

2.       Emphasis on content rather than form of these facilities; and

3.       Early delivery of the Park as well as some arts and cultural facilities for public enjoyment.

On cost containment, the WKCDA is now conducting a ‘rigorous value engineering exercise’ for the Xiqu Centre and negotiating with the selected design team of M+ to lower the project cost as far as practicable, without compromising the overall function and quality of the facilities.  

The board was informed that the WKCDA has made progress on this front, where the estimated cost of the Xiqu Centre (see AJ 10.12.2012) has been lowered from $2.7 billion to $2.5 - $2.6 billion.

Having conducted global design competitions for two landmark buildings, the WKCDA will organise a smaller scale competition for emerging local architects and designers for the Arts Pavilion. 

It is understood, consideration will be given to adopt ‘a more functional and pragmatic approach’ in the design and construction of other facilities, putting emphasis on functionality and user requirements.

To ensure early delivery of the park and other facilities and after a critical review of the park development, the WKCDA is looking at turning the fully landscaped park into quality open space with a cluster of modular arts and cultural facilities and ‘pop-up’ catering facilities, which could be delivered in much compressed programmes, for early enjoyment by the public and the arts community.

On the implementation programme, the WKCDA will strive to complete the first batch of facilities, Xiqu Centre, M+, eastern portion of the Park facing the waterfront (including the arts pavilion), Freespace (a black box and an outdoor stage in the form of an acoustic shell), and a modular performance venue, by 2018.  The second batch of facilities could include the Lyric Theatre, Medium Theatre I, Centre for Contemporary Performance. The remaining venues will only be built ‘after the completion of the integrated basement’.

In view of WKCDA’s financial condition, the WKCDA said it would explore the feasibility of having the mega performance venue and Exhibition Centre wholly privately funded and will review the way forward for the development of the two facilities, taking into account views of stakeholders, market demand, and availability of interested private investors.

Given that the WKCD development would span over a long period of time, during which the actual construction costs would be subject to many factors such as changes in economic conditions, detailed design of the facilities, the development schedule and the mode of financing for individual projects, only upon the finalisation of the detailed design of the facilities would it be possible to make reliable cost estimations. 

The WKCDA said it would also ‘proactively explore alternative sources of funding’ such as donation and sponsorship through granting of naming rights of certain facilities/parts of facilities. 

The WKCDA is also looking at generating additional gross floor area (GFA) through minor relaxation of GFA and/or building height restriction under section 16 of the Town Planning Ordinance to optimise the development potential of the WKCD site.

Previous story (AJ 10.12.2012)

Farrell joins star architects vying for Hong Kong M+ museum

Terry Farrell with Herzog & de Meuron, Snøhetta and Shigeru Ban are among the finalists competing to design a new museum for Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Culture District

Renzo Piano, Toyo Ito and SANAA also feature on the six-strong shortlist of star designers competing for the high-profile 60,000m² job.

Focussing on 20th and 21 st century visual culture, the museum is one of 17 arts venues proposed for the 23 hectare Foster + Partners-masterplanned development.

Scheduled to open in 2017, the museum will feature permanent exhibitions alongside interactive and learning spaces, a theatre, archive library and bookstore.

The full shortlist:

  • Herzog & de Meuron + TFP Farrells
  • Kazuyo Sejima+ Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA
  • Renzo Piano Building Workshop
  • Shigeru Ban Architects + Thomas ChowArchitects
  • Snøhetta
  • Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects + Benoy

West Kowloon Culture District Authority chief executive Michael Lynch said:  ‘We have a unique architectural brief for M+ as it will be a very special institution, a leader in its field in Asia and globally and a world class museum for the city providing essential space for Hong Kong’s artists and arts community. Hong Kong will have a new museum that it can be proud of.’

M+ executive director Lars Nittve said: ‘We are thrilled with this phenomenal shortlist. Our concept for M+ is a museum built from the inside out around its content and core values.

‘I am really looking forward to seeing designs that reflect this, that respond to the unique needs of a museum for visual culture here and beyond, and a design worthy of Hong Kong’s fast growing cultural scene.’

The shortlisted teams will submit concept designs next year and a winner is expected to be appointed in June 2013.


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