Submitted by Ka Ki Lee

A closer look into the controversial Palace Museum of Hong Kong

Hong Kong Architecture News - Feb 25, 2017 - 17:51   15308 views

A closer look into the controversial Palace Museum of Hong Kong

Protest in front of a giant poster of the Hong Kong Palace Museum. The banner reads, ''Mama, I'm hungry but I can't eat'', taken from a student hunger strike in Beijing in 1989. 

The long-delayed West Kowloon district (WKD) development in Hong Kong has arouse political discussion due to the interference of Chinese government on the secretly-planned Palace museum, which was not publicly consulted before the appointment of architect Rocco Yim Sen-KeeAfter years of public consultations followed by amendments and delays in the WKD development, in December 2016 the Chinese government surprised the Hong Kong citizens with the secret-planned Hong Kong Palace Museum (HK Palace Museum).

A closer look into the controversial Palace Museum of Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam (left) and the director of the Palace Museum, Shan Jixiang, at a press conference in Beijing. Image courtesy of GovHK

Since 1988, the ex-Chief Executive of Hong Kong Tung Chee Hwa proposed the development of WKD, aiming to develop a cultural and art hub in Hong Kong. Today, the whole West Kowloon arts hub project is years behind schedule and costing a lot more than the original HK$21.6 billion budgeted.

Initial proposal ''City Park'' by Foster + Partners in 2011 © Foster + Partners

West Kowloon Cultural District nowadays © 2017 Google

Different competitions and consultations have been organized throughout years in order to ensure the economic, intellectual and cultural qualities of the development, public consultations and engagement exercises are also held to ensure the benefits of local residents. 

Except Foster, there was also Herzog & de Meuron with TFP Farrels who were chosen in 2013 to design the M+ Museum, while other finalists include SANAA, Renzo Piano, Shigeru Ban, Snøhetta and Toyo Ito

A closer look into the controversial Palace Museum of Hong Kong

M+ Museum for visual culture by Herzog & de Meuron and TFP Farrels © West Kowloon Hong Kong

A closer look into the controversial Palace Museum of Hong Kong

M+ Museum © West Kowloon Hong Kong and Herzog & de Meuron

Xiqu Center by Bingthom Architects, scheduled to open in 2018 © West Kowloon Hong Kong

Initially planned as a mega performance venue, without any consultation the project was replaced by the Hong Kong Palace Museum. It will be a branch museum of the Beijing's Palace museum, in order to exhibit artifacts from the Palace Museum collection highlighting imperial life and culture. 

Controversies came when the new Palace Museum plan was announced without any public consultation or competition bids, the whole appointment process of architect Rocco Yim was also lack of transparency. After being heavily criticized by the public, the Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, the Palace Museum project leader set up a six-week public consultation. The consultation and exhibition will be on view up till March 08, 2017. 

Presentation of Hong Kong Palace Museum in the public consultation © West Kowloon Hong Kong

While the exhibition is still heavily criticized due to the lack of information. Public also criticized that there wasn't a choice on whether the museum should be built or not. The appointment of Rocco Yim was also heavily blamed as he was appointed as the project’s architect without an open competition. 

There are also theories that the museum will become one of the most popular protest site in the future, as there are already protests in front of the posters of Hong Kong Palace Museum.

Hong Kong Palace Museum Design Presentation © West Kowloon Hong Kong

The design concept is to find the convergence between traditional Chinese spatial culture and contemporary Hong Kong spatial culture. HK Palace Museum transforming the horizontal spatial sequences of courtyard into the vertical spatial sequences of atria.
Hong Kong Palace Museum Design Presentation © West Kowloon Hong Kong

Hong Kong Palace Museum Design Presentation © West Kowloon Hong Kong

Top image © HKEJ

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