Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District

 Aedes Architecture ForumImage courtesy of Aedes Architecture Forum

West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong – CONSTRUCTING CULTURE
Location: Aedes Architecture Forum; Christinenstr. 18-19; 10119 Berlin
Exhibition: 27 May – 13 July 2017

One of the world’s largest and ambitious cultural projects, the West Kowloon Cultural District will establish a dynamic cultural quarter on 40 hectares of reclaimed land located on Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour.

The development of the West Kowloon Cultural District is a strategic investment by the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to help meet the long-term needs of the Hong Kong’s arts and cultural sector, a vital part of any world class city’s economic and social fabric. The cultural district will be a place where the local arts scene can interact, develop and collaborate, as well as a place to host and produce world class events. The district will feature a wide variety of theaters, performance spaces, museums and exhibition spaces, along with dining, retail, office and hotel facilities. With 23 hectares of public open space in the form of the 11 hectare Art Park, two kilometres of waterfront promenade, squares, plazas and terraces the district also aims to be an open and accessible recreation destination for locals and international visitors.

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This exhibition takes a closer look at the emerging Cultural District looking at its role as both a supporter of traditional culture and a pioneer in contemporary art and innovation; as a local destination that will be a major tourist attraction; as a ‘smart’ purpose built district that promotes the human values of artistic creativity; and as a district that reflects Hong Kong’s unique identity as part of China. The district will open in stages with the first major venue – the Xiqu Centre, which is dedicated to the traditional artform of Chinese Opera, opening in 2018. The M+ museum of visual culture is scheduled to open in 2019 with other venues following after.

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Even while the process of planning and construction have been underway the West Kowloon Cultural District has been acting as a significant cultural hub for Hong Kong. Over the past five years the construction site and other venues have been used to present a wide variety of artistic performances, festivals, exhibitions and education projects. The vibrant programme includes a diverse range of M+ exhibitions covering architecture, design, Chinese contemporary art, moving image, Hong Kong’s neon signs, performance art, giant inflatable art sculptures, and Hong Kong popular culture; a performing arts programme that includes regular performances of Chinese opera (Xiqu) and open air festivals featuring music, circus, poetry, dance and crafts; an extensive programme of talks and seminars; artistic development and sector training projects; and extensive outreach into Hong Kong schools. 

Aedes Architecture ForumImage courtesy of Aedes Architecture Forum

These events have provided an invaluable testing environment to help inform the complex process of creating such a large district on an empty site, and also helped develop audiences in advance of the completion of the cultural facilities. The West Kowloon Cultural District has also been considering the use of open public space, a topic of considerable significance for a cultural district located at the heart of one of the most densely populated cities on earth. Open air markets, street performance, bike hire schemes, pet areas, public art installations have all being trialed, along with the use of mobile apps to disseminate on site information – a must in a city where the mobile penetration exceeds 200%.

more. www.aedes-arc.de

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