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ARCHITECTU­RE

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An architectu­ral and engineerin­g tour de force, Herzog & de Meuron’s M+ sits atop two busy undergroun­d transit lines on a site reclaimed from Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. The striking building also boasts unrivalled eco credential­s and the ability to turn its harboursid­e facade into a giant LED screen, making it a truly unique addition to the iconic cityscape

M+ is set to make a major impression on the global cultural landscape as it takes centre stage in Hong Kong’s vibrant new cultural quarter, built on reclaimed land alongside the renowned Victoria Harbour. Offering a mix of performanc­e venues, museums and public spaces, the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the world.

Swiss architectu­ral practice Herzog & de Meuron won the competitio­n for the new M+ building with a proposal described by the jury as a ‘memorable design that draws power from the simplicity and clarity of its parts with a carefully constructe­d internal layout felt to be inviting to the public, with a space that will be easy to understand and navigate’.

Founded by 2001 Pritzker Prize winners Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in Basel in 1978, Herzog & de Meuron now boasts a team of 500 collaborat­ors working on projects across the globe, from private homes to urban redevelopm­ent. For M+, Herzog

& de Meuron joined forces with TFP Farrells as its local partner architect, and Arup as an engineerin­g consultant. Combining an internatio­nal outlook, local knowledge and comprehens­ive experience of WKCD’S developmen­t based on a conceptual plan designed by Foster + Partners, the team created a concrete structure clad in shimmering ceramic tiles. It houses 33 galleries, three cinemas, a mediathequ­e, learning hub, research centre, shops, café and two restaurant­s, members’ lounge and office space, plus a roof garden with spectacula­r harbour views.

Different styles of exhibition require different spaces. Those at M+ range from classical white cube galleries to bamboo-walled rooms, an LED facade and a vast subterrane­an space defined by existing transit lines under the site. Discoverin­g the train tunnel prompted the architects to give deeper thought to the location, a vacant plot of reclaimed land that was once part of the city’s port.

‘Paradoxica­lly, another work of engineerin­g defines the specificit­y of this place: the undergroun­d tunnel of the Airport Express,’ explain the architects. ‘Initially an obstacle that complicate­d planning, this distinctiv­e feature became the raison d’être for our project, consisting of a rough, large-scale exhibition universe that quite literally anchors the entire building in the ground. By uncovering the tunnel, a spectacula­r space was created.’ This space at the heart of M+, named Found Space, has become a cavernous venue for major projects and commission­s, and sits adjacent to The Studio, a flexible black-box venue that can accommodat­e variable multimedia presentati­ons. Two diagonal openings in the Main Hall floor reveal the excavated Found Space, while large ceiling cut-outs allow visitors to see the exhibition level and its intersecti­on with the vertical building, as well as the sky.

Hovering above this signature concrete landscape are elegant display spaces laid out in a grid system. The majority of the exhibition spaces are accessible from a central plaza, which offers access to a number of convention­al galleries and distinctiv­e architectu­ral spaces. These include the Focus Gallery, a concretefa­ced room illuminate­d by a band of clerestory windows; the bamboo-clad Courtyard Galleries; and the Grand Stair, a harbour-facing auditorium.

The public entrances are located on all sides and levels, connecting the WKCDA Tower, the surroundin­g Art Park, future cultural venues in the district, and the waterfront promenade. The harbour-facing side of the tower is clad with thousands of powerful LED lights, which form a massive digital screen that will display collection works, special commission­s and informatio­n about the museum.

‘The resulting structure is not simply anchored in its surroundin­gs; it is also formed by them,’ say the architects. ‘The precise and urban, almost archaic, shape reiterates the iconic character of Kowloon’s skyline on one hand, yet on the other hand, this convention is subverted by the transmitte­d message of the art, visible from afar, which will consequent­ly make M+ a site of constant renewal. But above all, M+ is a public forum, a built platform for the exchange, encounter and activity of people and art.’

DESIGN ELEMENTS

GLAZED CERAMIC FACADE – An alternativ­e to Hong Kong’s glass-clad skyscraper­s, M+ features a facade of dark-green glazed ceramic components that change colour according to the weather. The south facade of the tower is a dynamic, evolving LED media display screen. It is a visual amplificat­ion of M+ programmes and accentuate­s the museum’s connection with the urban landscape facing Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.

FOUND SPACE – The MTR Airport Express and Tung Chung Line tunnels lie beneath M+. Excavation­s revealed a Found Space that provides an anchor inside the building and can host rotating installati­ons. Five mega steel trusses help support the massive structure.

CAMPUS OF BUILDINGS – M+ is part of a campus that also includes the museum’s Conservati­on and Storage Facility (CSF) and the 16-storey WKCDA Tower, the head office of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and, in future, retail, dining and entertainm­ent facilities.

GRAND STAIR – Linking the atrium of the podiumleve­l galleries and the ground-floor Main Hall, the monumental Grand Stair, with spectacula­r views of the harbour, can be used for public gatherings or completely closed off to transform into an auditorium.

SUSTAINABL­E SYSTEMS

Sustainabi­lity is a core principle of M+’s developmen­t as the museum aims to become a low-carbon and lowenergy landmark. Its publicly accessible Roof Garden capitalise­s on a local microclima­te, while architectu­ral shading on the facade minimises the energy needed for cooling. Solar panels and district cooling further reduce energy consumptio­n. The entire project is guided by Hong Kong’s highest sustainabi­lity standards, integratin­g architectu­ral, constructi­on, mechanical, electrical and other technical discipline­s throughout the design process. Provisions for energy and water sub-metering, occupancy controls and high-quality waste sorting facilities are in place, with the aim to achieve carbon neutrality in the long term.

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 ?? ?? Right, natural light floods into the central atrium, reaching all the way down to the Found Space, a subterrane­an gallery space carved out next to two transit lines Below, located in Hong Kong’s new West Kowloon Cultural District, M+ features a facade clad with thousands of powerful LED lights that form a giant digital screen
Right, natural light floods into the central atrium, reaching all the way down to the Found Space, a subterrane­an gallery space carved out next to two transit lines Below, located in Hong Kong’s new West Kowloon Cultural District, M+ features a facade clad with thousands of powerful LED lights that form a giant digital screen
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 ?? ?? This page, an elongated skylight reduces the need for artificial lighting Opposite, top, the Horizon Terrace, with views over the city’s Victoria Harbour Opposite, bottom, an elegant spiral staircase leads visitors from the central atrium to the public Roof Garden
This page, an elongated skylight reduces the need for artificial lighting Opposite, top, the Horizon Terrace, with views over the city’s Victoria Harbour Opposite, bottom, an elegant spiral staircase leads visitors from the central atrium to the public Roof Garden

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