West Kowloon Cultural District by
Foster + Partners


West Kowloon Cultural District by Foster and partners

UK architects Foster + Partners have also announced their proposed masterplan for the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong.

West Kowloon Cultural District by Foster and partners

Click above for larger image

Their proposal for the 40 hectare site will have seventeen cultural venues such as concert halls, as well as 30,000 square-metres of arts education facilities.

West Kowloon Cultural District by Foster and partners

The master plan involves two parks - a city park and the main nineteen hectare great park - while the streets, avenues and waterfront will be heavily planted.

West Kowloon Cultural District by Foster and partners
Image by Methanoia Studio.

All vehicular transportation will take place via an underground network with a series of access points adjacent to the main venues.

West Kowloon Cultural District by Foster and partners

Above ground is reserved for pedestrian movement, other than a series of cycling routes along the waterfront.

West Kowloon Cultural District by Foster and partners
Image by Methanoia Studio.

Explore the proposal in detail on the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority website.

Read our stories about the competing proposals by OMA here and by Rocco Design Architects here.

Here's some more from the architects:

Proposals launched for Foster + Partners’ ‘City Park’ at West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong

Foster + Partners’ masterplan for West Kowloon Cultural District, on a reclaimed harbour-front site, has been launched in Hong Kong. ‘City Park’ will capture and recreate the unique character, the DNA, that makes Hong Kong such a great city. At its heart, a 23-hectare great park and a green avenue will provide a landscaped setting for a series of spectacular new cultural buildings – the jewels in Hong Kong’s architectural crown. These new buildings will be approachable and welcoming – places for both high culture and popular enjoyment.

The seventeen new cultural venues include a Great Opera House; M+ (a pioneering museum of modern art); concert halls; and a 15,000-seat Arena with an Expo Centre below. Arts educational facilities, apartments, offices, shops and transport links are to be fully integrated, and 2 kilometres of harbour-front promenade will give the people of Hong Kong their first chance to look back at the city’s iconic skyline. A social focus is created along a new central avenue, extending from Canton Road in the east to the Harbour Tunnel mouth in the west, along which a variety of cultural and commercial activities are integrated.

Foster + Partners brings its understanding of urban design and knowledge of Hong Kong – gained from thirty-one years’ experience in the city – to create a vibrant new cultural quarter with public spaces and buildings where public and private realms converge, social and physical boundaries are dissolved, and different groups can meet. West Kowloon’s familiar street pattern will extend into ‘City Park’ so that it becomes a natural extension of the local community. This relationship is reflected in a rich mixture of colonnades, alleyways, lanes and tree-lined promenades – streetscapes that recall the bustle of Lan Kwai Fong and thoroughfares such as Shanghai Street in Kowloon.

Though the district will attract visitors for its imaginative cultural programme, equally important are the 30,000 square metres of arts education facilities that will encourage home-grown artistic talent and benefit the people of Hong Kong.

The 19-hectare great park will have magnificent views of the harbour and Hong Kong Island, and be open and accessible to local people and visitors alike. Its sculpted terrain, with dense tree planting, will provide shade and shelter, bringing the Hong Kong countryside into the city. A series of outdoor terraces and promenades will link the cultural buildings to the waterfront with vistas to Hong Kong Island. The great park also incorporates areas for outdoor performances and exhibitions. The needs of pedestrians and cars are balanced by sinking the main vehicle route below ground level; and to further maximise parkland, the Expo Centre is embedded below the Arena, combining two functions in one compact form.

City Park will achieve a carbon-neutral rating with a synergistic system of high-efficiency and low-consumption infrastructure. The low-energy design includes district cooling/heating, grey water recycling, energy recovery systems for sewage, recycling, a waste-to-energy scheme and the generation of local, low-carbon electricity. There is also provision for solar and wind energy generation.

Lord Foster, Founder and Chairman, Foster + Partners said: “Hong Kong is a great city and this project captures what is important about its DNA: the civic spaces, the squares, the parks, the greenery, the avenues and the small side streets. At ‘City Park’ we have created a world class setting for a new cultural city for everyone.”

Mouzhan Majidi, Chief Executive, Foster + Partners said: “The West Kowloon Cultural District is an ambitious project to create a dynamic new district with a rich mix of spaces for everyone in Hong Kong. Our approach is to create a masterplan where the boundaries between living, working and playing are blurred, public space is welcoming and lively, and the quality of urban life is substantially improved. We look forward to carrying out further work on this exciting endeavour.”

Spencer de Grey, Head of Design, Foster + Partners said: “City Park belongs to the people of Hong Kong. What we have done is taken our years of experience here, listened to what people need and created a setting for a new world class cultural district that expresses the hopes and aspirations of the city. It will be the most extraordinary international destination – a new landmark on the world’s cultural map.”

West Kowloon Cultural District

Hong Kong, China 2010
Foster + Partners Team: Norman Foster, Mouzhan Majidi, Spencer de Grey, David Nelson, Andy Bow, Luke Fox, Colin Ward, Ricky Sandhu, Narinder Sagoo, Armstrong Yakubu, Mark Atkinson, Riko Sibbe, Fiona Drago, Kevin Chan, Howard Chung, Theo Malzieu, Eric Po.
Client: West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Planning and landscape consultant: Urbis
Local Architect: Ronald Lu & Partners
Retail dining and entertainment consultant: Benoy
Engineering and sustainability consultant: Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong
Transport & Traffic Consultant: MVA Hong Kong
Economic, financial and institutional consultant: GHK Hong Kong
Museum planning and operations consultant: Lord Cultural Resources
Theatre planning consultant: Theatre Projects Consultants
Theatre operations consultan: Positive Solutions
Cost consultant: Davis Langdon & Seah

Property & land consultant: CBRE Consulting
Public relations consultant: Globe Creative

See also:


West Kowloon Cultural
District by OMA
Khan Shatyr Entertainment
Centre by Foster + Partners
Pavilion at Shanghai Expo by
Foster + Partners

Posted on Friday August 20th 2010 at 6:05 pm by Joe Mills. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Words, words, words…

    "At ‘City Park’ we have created a world class setting for a new cultural city for everyone.”
    "…to create a vibrant new cultural quarter "
    " we…created a setting for a new world class cultural district that expresses the hopes and aspirations of the city…"

    Too many words, not enough Architecture – even on those preliminary renderings.
    I still love that Japanese tobacco shop. It is so quiet and yet substantial… I know we're talking about different scale here, and yet I feel more comfortable with the small Japanese studio language :) Maybe I'm wrong.

  • jesshk

    The buildings don't really look like cultural but very commercial. And the huge park next to the waterfront is just another typical isolated park in HK that only creates separation – again the waterfront is isolated from the city.. that's not so smart

  • NMT

    Too often, western architects destroy the skyline in asia by treating our growth and need as their little design experimentation.

    this is my great city, i'm glad that foster didn't screw this up. He actually did a great job on this by really carefully looking at what is missing or needed in hong kong.

  • fish fingers

    He's done magnificent work but still can't forgive Foster for what he did to Spitalfields market.

  • 100% hongkong girl

    I dont like it so much, we have already too many commercial places in Hong Kong that look like this and this is supposed to be different because its a cultural district!

  • RLKC

    Looks more like "architecture in a park" sort of like Serpentine than a "masterplan".

  • hey

    why only 2 schemes are shown here?i suppose to have 3???

  • ???huh?

    where is the last scheme?

    • Hi guys,

      We will post a story about Rocco Design Architects' proposal as soon as we receive the material from the studio.

  • dorisis

    almost forgot that they are actually working on a "cultural district" masterplan. the two views of the buildings can just happen in anywhere in any city and the park, it is only a huge lot of trees with little design efforts from the architect. disappointing.

  • hiuchplayer

    the skyscraper (ICC) looks odd in the picture.

  • tma

    no character, no meaning and no effort on design…what a shame. any design firm can come up with these proposal. very disappointing. The master plan is not clear what its trying to convey. collarge and without a coherent aesthetics to reflect the importance of the design. A city like hong kong can use this special one of a kind potential site to develop something more spectacular to reflect a world class city. something that can help the city to enhance its own culture and future development by a "real" sustainable and green architecture. not by adding more trees to make it more "green".

  • Kilgore Trout

    @jesshk: Waterfronts are blocked by highways and buildings. I don't see how a public park, with open lawns, amphitheatres, a promenade and other public facilities isolates the waterfront from the city.

    Hong Kong doesn't have a single great park and only a couple of waterfront parks. It is sorely in need of some well-designed, flexible green space that isn't rule-bound and covered in concrete like Kowloon Park or Victoria Park.

    • jesshk

      @Kilgore Trout
      I definately agree that HK doesn't have a great park & this is the best potential location for a waterfront park. But in a way, I also believe that this waterfront park in West Kowloon, should really be dedicated to be part of the cultural district, and should be highly integrated and interacted with cultural, lively activites in an intimate scale. I do not see the layout in this scheme, with the heavily-planted park located at the very west end of the district, would be able to accommodate activities coming from the very north-east.

      I see no way that I can enjoy the waterfront park If I come to watch a show outside or in the middle of a forest – I might not even see, and so not knowing that the water is just 1 minute away from me.

  • HK BOY

    lack of architectural idea, i can see how the "idea" drive the whole masterplan. it ceate spreateion of spaces ….. i am sure no one gonna go to the big dead park ! i think all the art activity should mix in the park by an "architectural idea & context", so people will use the park as "art space".

  • hong kong boy

    the first "carbon neutral PARK" ….
    must be a new invention to claim a park carbon neutral

    If the theme is about the park … what happens in this park?
    until now nothing than being an artificial forrest

    If this is a a forrest …. have does it have to do with a cultural district?

    If this is a cultural district … why does it look like a commecial district?

    At last …. why does this commercial district look any other shopping distrcit in the world?

  • bigchilli

    This is a culture killing project and I think its got nothing to do with Hong Kong in anyway. It also could be realized in London, New York or Dubai. Just another huge commercial area in a city with so much traditional background. Good Images I think, but that is not enough, sorry.

    • Laurent

      hong kong needs urgently what it lacks most. green space and parks. thats what they seem to be trying to do. if you want something thats got to do with HK, then we should come up with a scheme of more towers made of towers, trying to be the biggest tallest one again, and again. coz thats what hong kong looks like now.
      and am writing this from a cafe in Hong Kong. not that i dont know what i am talking about – please tell us what you think would be right then.

      • RLKC

        I myself am a Hong Konger and I can safely say that this is NOT the standard of work that is to be produced by any firm. I do not see any masterplanning in it at all. They did not even bother to integrate the park into the rest of the architecture.
        "more towers made of more towers"
        really? do you want that to happen to HK, it is exactly what I do not want happen to HK and I dont think many people do.
        At least OMA bothered to actually link the park to the city. OMA's proposal is in fact the best out of the 3 in my opinion.

  • Laurent

    i only read angry and negative posts here…thats actually pretty systematic with architects talking about architecture… only able to accept as something good something they like. oversized ego? narrow minded. not a single constructive comment. and am not saying that specifically for this project…oh well…freedom of speech right.
    i guess all these have made me sound the same too.

  • kelvin

    please please please not Foster in HK again, it looks like another shopping area in HK which the city is already filled with. No real concept but just to follow the brief…..At least there is a belief in the OMA scheme…

    • cruize

      Even if it turns out just to be a shopping district (which I hope it won't), it will still offer something different.

      It won't be big box megamall. The buildings will see natural light. People will stroll along tree shaded walkways. There will be no cars. These are all positives, and I hope that M+ does turn out to be a world class gallery.

    • Ben

      If you want HK ppl to hang around there, you make sure there're shops and places for yum cha. They won't spend 3 hours in a museum, forget about it.

  • steve

    "ppl" will have a new location to picnic on a sunday. besides central…….lol

    • RLKC

      "ppl"…yes only the locals understand.haha.

  • DannyHK

    I don't see any master planning here unfortunately. Isolated, no linking between the park and the city. All the buildings looks so typical and they can be put on anywhere on the world! I can't believe they presented that kinds of stupid and commercial renderings on a cultural project=[

  • Feesh

    I like this scheme over the other two because it is the only scheme that gives the district a plausible entrance: The diagonal on the north east is quite a nice and elegant solution to bring people from the city to an otherwise quite isolated site. I visited the site during the HK Biennale and it was really quite difficult to get there primarily because of the giant cross roads.

    Foster and Partners have proposed a dig down for the car traffic over which a pedestrian walkway with a much more pedestrian friendly scale can be achieved as the main entrance. Probably very expensive but in my opinion necessary if there is to be any activity on the site.

    Access to the site is my main gripe with Rocco Design's scheme, which while providing excellent connectivity within the district , turns its back on the rest of Kowloon and casts shadows over Elements. I am somewhat bewildered as to the amount of build-up area asked for by the government as it seems to vary greatly between each of the three proposals.

    The two giant spaces separating the villages in OMA's scheme seem crazily over-scaled. I wonder if they were a homage of sorts to Koolhaas' experience with the Cornell's arts quad in icy cold Ithaca. While that is definitely a beautiful space I do not think it would be popular in the hot climate of Hong Kong where the sun shines directly above and shade is absolutely necessary (incidently this also draws me to Foster's scheme). It doesn't help that OMA's shadow plan has the shadows shining from the East when any Hong Konger will tell you that West light is what you should be most aware of.

  • Jonathan

    It’s going to be nice to be able to look over Victoria Harbour from Kowloon in a green waterside place. The parkland is great. Hope it stays.