Building M+ / The Competition

Last Sunday was the final day of the Mobile M+ exhibition at ArtisTree in Tai Koo. The exhibition showcased the six proposals that made it to the final stages of the international competition for Hong Kong’s new, multidisciplinary museum for visual culture. It featured the winning entry and also some of the future exhibits.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-1

M+ is an ambitious project, that is scheduled for completion in late 2017. The scale of the museum building alone, at around 60,000 square metres, will be on par with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Situated on the waterfront of the Victoria Harbour at the edge of a 14-hectare park, it will be one of 17 core arts and cultural venues in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

The competition brief called for a museum ‘designed from the inside out’ with inventiveness and ingenuity, expressed boldly, simply and legibly.

Over 80 architecture firms responded by September 2012, in December 2012 six shortlisted teams were selected. The jury announced the competition winner in June 2013 and now the brief is being developed and the design finalised.

But before I reveal the winner, let’s start with the six entries that made it in the final stage for the future M+ building.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-2

The first entry that I looked at is by Shigeru Ban Architects (Japan) and Thomas Chow Architects (Hong Kong). They proposed a volume with transformable wings that opened the interior onto the surrounding park. Not only will this allow the public and passersby to freely enter in and out of the museum, this feature also controls the climate within, allowing the building to rely less on the use of air conditioning to cool its temperature. When the ‘wing’ sections are fully extended parallel to the ground, they create a five-point star from the air – this is a nice touch and could be a reference to the five-petal orchid tree (Bauhinia blakeana) that is featured in Hong Kong’s flag, but is more likely to relate to the flag of China with its five red stars.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-3

The next entry is by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA (Japan) and AGC Design (Hong Kong). I tried to find out more about it, but I did not succeed. It’s twelve buildings combined into one, but I don’t know how flexible the structure is, whether it can change or not. There was too little information for me to understand their submission.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-4

Toyo Ito & Associates Architects (Japan) and Benoy Limited (Hong Kong) designed a museum that is very green and ecologically minded. Its design is ‘borrowed’ from the clouds, trees and the earth.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-5

Building M+ exhibition 2014-6

It feels light and airy. There will be three different platforms. Each platform develops into a different space – an art factory at the entrance hall, an art forest in the middle (which is partially open despite being 32m above ground) and an art cloud at the top, which holds collection galleries and storage.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-7

Number four is designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop (Italy and France) and Ronald Lu & Partners (Hong Kong). Again an interesting design but with limited information – I can recognise different boxes stacked on top of each it other, but I’m not sure what it means.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-8

Snøhetta (Norway) and Ronald Lu & Partners (Hong Kong) designed a very unique museum, which a roof plate that stands out.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-9

It creates a huge geometrical pattern that plays with light and shade. A very stark, contrasting design – I took a few pictures from their concept drawings, but you better head to this website to see much more.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-10

Building M+ exhibition 2014-11

Finally, submission number six is by Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland) and TFP Farrells (Hong Kong). Their design includes a slender vertical tower where a research centre and offices are located on the lower levels, with a sky garden floor above and restaurants offering views out over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.

Building M+ exhibition 2014-12

The tower is almost transparent and allows to look through it – if it is not covered by an artwork. The lower part is a two-level podium with an diverse array of exhibition and display spaces around a central plaza which includes a space dedicated to contemporary ink art, topped by a large public roof terrace.

Which of the six designs do you like best?

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