West Kowloon Cultural District by OMA

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OMA new cultural district in Hong Kong

Rotterdam architects OMA have announced their proposed masterplan for a new cultural district in Hong Kong.

OMA new cultural district in Hong Kong

The 40 hectare site would comprise three 'urban villages' situated within a park connected to the existing Kowloon Park, forming the largest public green space in Hong Kong.

OMA new cultural district in Hong Kong

One of three contenders for the site, the scheme consists of a museum and exhibition space, performance venues, a market and an open-air amphitheatre seating 15,000.

West Kowloon Cultural District by OMA

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

Read our stories about the competing proposals by Foster + Partners here and by Rocco Design Architects here.

Here's more from OMA:


OMA reveals plans for new cultural district in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, 20 August 2010 – The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority unveiled today OMA’s conceptual masterplan for a major new arts district in Hong Kong. Under OMA’s plan – one of three competing proposals – the 40 hectare waterfront site facing Victoria Harbour would become an authentic environment of three urban villages embedded in a new public park, Hong Kong’s largest.

West Kowloon Cultural District by OMA

Click above for larger image

OMA founding partner Rem Koolhaas commented: “Using the village – a typology every citizen of Hong Kong is familiar with – as the model for our plan allows us to absorb the massive scale of WKCD’s ambition into manageable portions and forge deep connections with Kowloon, whose vital urban energy will be the lifeblood of WKCD.”

In 2009, OMA established a new office in Hong Kong to study local conditions and consult with a wide range of stakeholders and experts in the fields of culture and finance. Out of this research, we generated a cultural masterplan, working in tandem with architecture, for establishing a creative milieu that can fully ‘inhabit’ WKCD’s plethora of new arts facilities and make the neighbourhood come alive.

OMA’s three villages each have a strong emphasis on vibrant street life and cultural production where all aspects of the creative process – from education to rehearsal to production to performance – are nurtured and made visible.

Art in the east

One of the key elements of OMA’s proposal for WKCD is M+, an experimental new museum interpreted as a barcode of overlapping bands featuring visual art, film, design and popular culture. Embedded in M+ is an Art Factory, where education, artist studios, a hotel and shops intersect and interact with the museum itself. Beneath M+, the Exhibition Centre is a venue for auctions and conventions, a further intermingling of culture and commerce. M+ links to Kowloon Park and to the surrounding neighbourhood with pedestrian bridges – one of them an

extension of the park, one an extension of the museum itself – into Jordan and to Temple Street, and across Canton Road to an outpost of the museum in Victoria Towers.

Market in the middle

The Middle Village is conceived as a continuation of Kowloon’s street markets, with small-scale entertainment, local shops, restaurants, street markets, artist studios, production spaces, and galleries. The Middle Village is flanked by a Xiqu Theatre (and a Xiqu School) for Cantonese performance and, to the east, a premiere movie theatre celebrating Hong Kong’s film industry.

Performance in the west

With views over the water and Victoria Harbour, the focal point of Theatre Village is the Uni- versal Theatre, a network of four interconnected performance spaces: chamber music theatre, street theatre, grand theatre and a concert hall. Each venue is embedded in a single, continu- ous outdoor lobby stretching the length of the village. Below the lobby, the public can tour the shared rehearsal, production and technical spaces for all four theatres.

The Mega Performance Venue

Located in parkland between the West and Middle Villages, the Mega Performance Venue is an open-air amphitheatre based on the ancient Greek and Roman model. It seats 15,000 people for large scale entertainment ranging from pop concerts to New Year’s celebrations with views over Hong Kong Island as its natural backdrop.

Park of the New Horizon

All three villages are embedded in a single park, which connects with Kowloon Park via a planted green bridge to form the largest public green space in Hong Kong. WKCD’s Park of the New Horizon offers a space liberated from the commercial, and also from the wealth of interdic- tions familiar in most of Hong Kong’s open space. We draw from tropical agriculture and the fishponds of the Mai Po wetlands not only as a repertoire of species and cultivation methods, but as a mechanism for organizing communal action. Forest gardens, orchards, ponds, mead- ows, and even communal urban farming are all connected by paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

OMA’s conceptual plan will be discussed in a series of public forums in the coming three months, in which OMA is represented by Rem Koolhaas, David Gianotten and Betty Ng. The project is also on display in roving exhibitions across Hong Kong from 20 August until 20 November and at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice from 29 August until 21 November.


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Waterfront City masterplan
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Chu Hai College
Campus by OMA
All our stories
about OMA
  • tracy bonzai

    i don't believe this is a genuine OMA project.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregorovsky Watson Greg

    Yes, Very nice, I think that places like that are important in the packed and dense city that is Hong Kong

  • Tyler

    Dear Dezeen. Please, don't post projects by OMA. It's such a shame watching non-architectural values of our world. Best.

    • charlie chan

      that's quite negative, dear.

      Although, I am not a fan of this project too…

      • John Smith

        Definitely, honey.

        You wouldn't like other people using that condescending attitude to you, although, i am not a fan of this project too…

        • X Chan

          Oh darling, what did OMA do to you?

  • erikbnyc

    Hmm.
    Lacking something. Not very great.

    But do like the concept of dense, small-scale buildings that form an urban-like district/village, rather than large-scale concepts for the entire site.

    The water edge seems forgotten however. Why would there not be a stronger idea for the entire water-edge of the site??

    In the video, RK comes across as the Mandela/Bono of the Creative World..
    Bit odd.

  • anon

    I've been to this site before and I remain unconvinced. This looks like they compressed parts of HK they liked when they visited onto a single site, but then it is right next to the larger than life complex "Elements". The little stab at kowloon urban style buildings is an ironic joke next to that complex. This is a site where you cannot compete with whats next to you, and I don't know why any HK resident would come here for urbanity rather than to well, anywhere else in the city. Maybe it was part of the brief to turn this into a park but I don't know. Why not just give in and put a boardwalk with 25 different expensive restaurants. That's the clientele in this area…

    • RLKC

      by accomodating to the "clientele" in the area is probably the exact thing Rem does not want happen to West Kowloon, look at Victoria Harbour and you will probably find none of the neon lights, tight alleys, busy streets that make up true Hong Kong. Plus, out of all 3 proposals, I think they integrated this one quite well with respect to transporation and accessibility.

  • RLKC

    I especially love the idea of M+. It is nice for an art and culture hub to be so close to the city. Always loved OMA's masterplans. They may not be visual orgasms, but they certainly contain a huge amount of thought and relevance.

  • fvale

    like the revival of old OMA ideas squeezed into this urban project. Always loved that curved amphitheatre.

  • hongkong guy

    wow! its bueatifull!

  • Richard

    Dezeen, please post Rocco Yim's proposal as well, this is unfair that only 2 of 3 proposals are on here.

    • http://twitter.com/Dezeen @Dezeen

      Hi guys,

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

  • sam hui

    good stuff! hope he win!

  • RLKC

    yes, Rocco Yim is getting huge disadvantage here!

  • Fingertip

    Yes, I also think it is so unfair to Rocco Yim's proposal by only posting Foster's and OMA's here, as I think Rocco Yim's proposal provides a clearer vision from a local on what kind of life in West Kowloon District should be like, not only in form of architecture.
    http://www.wkcdauthority.hk/pe2/en/conceptual/ind

  • flytoget

    This is why I admire OMA so much.

  • uuu

    Rocco's design…. Have u seen his recent buildings in this town? you should check out his new building right by the cross harbor tunnel. it looks like it is designed by 6 different designers. he's not up to the international standard yet.

    • cyan

      what is international standard in architecture????? i think rocco west kowloon scheme is at least way better than fosters. and other of his project like the Guangdong Museum is REALLY DESERVE A POST IN HERE

  • http://www.facebook.com/ming.n.tsui Ming Norman Tsui

    Epic fail here by OMA. this would never work in HK, who are they kidding?

  • bernard

    Everything that comes out of the OMA machine an 'interesting paradox'.

    "the more HK adapts, the more it becomes itself"

    How is that paradoxical? My mind remains un-blown, I'm sorry to say.

  • HK BOY

    the architectural idea is not very strong. it create 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".

  • cyan

    cannot agree with richard anymore!

  • MIKE

    Funny for them to propose a street market here when some of the authentic markets in HK are gradually displaced & internalized into mega malls. Dont believe that the life & spontatenity of real street markets which they say they like so much can be pre-planned, not in a place where land is at a premium anyway

  • simon lee

    This is an honest proposal.
    No cheering about how first class Hong Kong will be with the masterplaners desgin.
    We really need to understand that this is only the first step.

  • michelle p

    Mike you say there is no hope, just leave the old conditions die.
    There are only new shopping malls realizable and old street feelings / conditions can't be reused and reinvented.
    This is actually a quite sad view on possibilities and our city future.
    I hope we are not fighitng only to keep these conditions alive and think we should believe in the possibiliy that we are even able to create new areas and distrcits like the ones we want to live in and spend time on.
    This scheme is really inspiring and should be used as a wake up call to what we can achieve if we work all together on a dream.

  • Patrick

    I quite like Rocco and Foster's design, and OMA;s public precentation seems a bit simple and crude .

  • gab xiao

    It's an interesting take on HK by proposing counter-paradigms: fragmented urban fabrics vs traditionally dense clusters, low to mid-rise vs high-rise, cultural and leisure programs vs business & commerce. It must be a long awaited balance, as well as a clear departure from the HK's heydays of hyper-financial activities. Collage as a last resort to injecting a fresh urban image is welcome; however the new skyline lacks strength and a certain sense of cohesion. Yeah, the Village – bring it on!…

  • CCC

    Agree with Michelle, OMA's design is a wake up call.

    We really should fight for this last piece of land in the heart of city, keep that being mostly own by public as communal use!!

    Not under the control by big developers!

    I like those ideas about 'swimming by the harbour', 'water taxi' & 'communal urban farm'.

  • One

    I do think this urban space is a kind of social condencer. As opporsed to clean Foster idea, the ‘culture’ is Not binded to China in lesser degree. OMA project does have lesser “financially impressive” architectonik sensation perhaps, but on the contrary the ‘real’ space inhabited by artists, exposing their idea in such dense urban culture will most certainly assure their free voice…

    If OMA loses it is because this project has 1) less twist and shout architecture and 2) provoked the issue on faming village captured as urban villge, about which the governmnet wanted to eradicate so much. If OMA wins it will be exactly because this agglmeration can contain ‘enbrio for art’… Looking foward to hear what it will be.

    According to me It is more the judges who are tested.

  • http://thesmallforest.blogspot.com/ elboscpetit

    Compare and compare…

    At first sight you can realise who believes in its project and who has good and real intentions.

    I can’t see these connections, I just see these isolations of utopic wonderful parties.

    And nobody believes a place called middle area full of first line buildings can be a place for citizens….

    Seems disneyland

  • me2

    OMA is like Corb
    they design wonderful singular buildings but unrealistically crude urban spaces

  • Michael R

    I had a close look at the 3 plans and think what people tend to do with looking at urban design is mistake it for architecture. The artist impressions are misleading. What they could have done is hire one and the same visual company do the impressions of all 3 plans. Purely based on real Masterplan: 2d plan (map) + 3d volumes + program + concept (story), I think the OMA plan is the best plan. It’s clear and flexible. The concept is perhaps here and there too far fetched, but that will fix itself. A great start for the next phase.

  • Archicello

    I like the presentation, original and brave. Quite modern, even if clearly done for marketing purposes. But about the project… can someone please say to Rem that we don't want another porto's Casa Da Musica? again!