West Kowloon Cultural District
by Rocco Design Architects


West Kowloon by Rocco

Hong Kong firm Rocco Design Architects are competing with OMA (see our story here) and Foster + Partners (see our story here) to create a master plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong. 

West Kowloon by Rocco

The proposal from Rocco Design Architects is split into three parts: green spaces, the built-up city and a cultural area.

West Kowloon by Rocco

Click above for a larger image

The Harbour Park would sit on the south west corner of the site and slope toward the harbour edge, running east of which would be the narrower West Kowloon Park.

West Kowloon by Rocco

The City District, where inhabitants would live and work in high-rise buildings, would be situated on the north side.

West Kowloon by Rocco

In between the two would sit the Cultural Core consisting of opera houses, theatres, museums, and galleries, all with green roofs.

West Kowloon by Rocco

The streets of this Cultural Core would run from north to south and be dissected by three east-west tramlines spanning the 1.5 kilometre site.

West Kowloon by Rocco

A series of public spaces such as courtyards, plazas, and steps would be formed where the Cultural Core meets the Harbour Park .

West Kowloon by Rocco

See also:

Our story on the proposal from OMA
Our story on the proposal from Foster + Partners

Explore all three proposals in detail on the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority website.

Here's some more from the architects:

West Kowloon Cultural District is intended not just for the glorification of certain Cultural icons, but to have a place where different programs, different people, different activities can come together simultaneously, in the same space and at the same time.

The aim of the West Kowloon master plan is about creating an energy that radiates from the people’s activities, which is conducive to a spirit of exploration and discovery.

Accordingly, the proposed master plan demonstrates the following:

1. It is not to be fully appreciated at first glance. Like a scroll it entices one to explore and to discover.

2. It does not solely glorify icons, but also celebrates the common places such as streets, squares, gardens, parklands which are embedded in the urban fabric.

3. It breaks the district’s isolation by forging pedestrian, tram, rail, vehicular, bicycle and ferry links to and from different directions.

West Kowloon by Rocco

The plan is organized in 3 fully integrated layers. The Green Terrain on the Harbour front with an undulating Harbour Park to the West. It seamlessly merges with the green roof over the shops, restaurants and cultural facilities to the east and being connected to the Kowloon Park. The gentle slope of the Harbour Park allows views to the Harbour and the Hong Kong Island, to be enjoyed at different levels and layers.

Closely integrated with the city to the north is the City Link. It provides space for living and working to ensure the District is alive 24 hours a day.Sandwiched between the two is the Cultural Core. It is filled with cultural venues, flexible, diverse, local and international, including Opera house, Theatres, Museums, Black Boxes, Flexible Art Space...etc.

West Kowloon by Rocco

In between the 3 layers are 3 main arteries from East to West transversing the 1.5km long site. The Tramway that provides relatively speedy communication with the electrical tram powered by renewable energy is located between the City Link and the Cultural Core. The Art-venue which is pedestrians only is in between the Cultural Core and the Green Terrain. And finally the harbour front Promenade is bordering onto the harbour for leisurely stroll and activities.

These three East-West arteries are than connected with a north south street-grid extending from adjacent neighbourhoods with shops, restaurants and cultural facilities along their frontages, each with different characters and configurations. The streets and alleys towards the harbour are terminated with a view of a landmark over the Hong Kong Island.

West Kowloon by Rocco

Click above for larger image

Linking the street grid and the district into an organic whole is a series of inter-connected 3-dimendional public spaces: plazas, steps, courts, decks, promenades: a diverse stage for public art by artists both local and overseas.

Such strategy will allow for participation and it is envisaged that the open spaces and the buildings can be designed by different architects over an extended period of time, each contributing to the making of the district within an overall framework.

The master plan with a well defined public realm framework is robust enough to allow for incremental growth and is flexible enough to cater for changes without compromising its strengths and characters. And indeed, such unpredictability will add to the vitality and variety of the District.

West Kowloon by Rocco

Click above for larger image

WKCD is to be a sustainable community in three aspects:

A Sustainable Cultural Ecology

The Plan allows for various spaces to accommodate and to foster an eco-system of education, incubation, experimentation, production and enjoyment, allowing the public to participate freely within their means. WKCD shall be the new power house of Hong Kong’s cultural development.

A Socially Integrated Community

“Hong Kong Culture” that defines our unique identity can only be cultivated from within the society, and indeed from the different dimensions of its social structure. For WKCD to be a genuine cultural district, it caters for the savant garde and the traditional, high and popular arts, allowing not only the high-sounding iconic pieces to be celebrated but also the popular and alternative culture a niche for appreciation. This is a place of many things for many people. This is about a district for all walks of life.

West Kowloon by Rocco

Click above for larger image

Lead Architect and Conceptual Plan Consultant:Rocco Design Architects Ltd.
Rocco Yim, William Tam, Freddie Hai, Dennis Chan, Stephen Chan, Queenie Szeto, Martin Fung, Haynie Sze, Dickson Wong, Gilles Chan
Engineering Transportation and Sustainability Consultant: Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd.
Traffic Consultant:MVA Hong Kong Ltd.
Planning and Landscape Consultant:EDAW (Ltd.)
Public Art Consultant:Freeman Lau, Kurt Chan, Michel De Boer
Financial Evaluation Consultant:GHK (HK) Ltd.
Land and Property Consultant:Professional Property Services Ltd., CBRE
Quantity Surveying Consultant:Davis Langdon & Seah
Performing Arts Planning Consultant:Positive Solutions
Theatre Planning Consultant:Theatreplan LLP
Visual Arts Facilities Planning Consultant:Lord Cultural Resources
Graphic Design:CoDesign Ltd.
Illustration:Siu Sai Shun
Public Artwork:Anthony Gormley, Hung Keung, Kwok Mang Ho, Michael Lau, Tsang Kin Wah, Wong Tin Yan, Ho Siu Kee
Cultural Advisors:Desmond Hui, Jane J. Zheng, Leung Man Tao, Philip Dodd, John Howkins and Edward Lam
Client:West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

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See also:


West Kowloon Cultural District
by Foster + Partners
West Kowloon Cultural District
by OMA
architecture stories

Posted on Wednesday August 25th 2010 at 4:48 pm by Joe Mills. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • flytoget

    Definitely the best proposal.

    • JjS

      I agree completely

  • RLKC

    just went to the exhibition at Wanchai COnvention Centre and my take on the proposals:
    2.Rocco Yim

  • jesshk

    doesn't seem to be that flexible as claimed

  • Marcos

    Definitely OMA is the most relevant and a masterpiece of urban design again!

  • ehab

    this is what i call really good interactive urban space a place where you would like to go to, am not sure about the wind farm though but beside that every thing is great ,this is the one for me between the three proposals
    like like like

  • Phillip

    By far and away the best proposal, but Foster’s is superior to OMA.

    OMA’s is just horrendously ugly, uninspired and wasteful of the space.

    • RLKC

      Foster's is superior to OMA??

      Sorry but Foster's proposal is horrendous.

  • toya

    Absolutely the best

  • gab xiao

    1. Rocco Design

    Here's an elegant proposal that addresses the area's scale transition to the waterfront. Logical, feasible, yet not least intricate regading the programming, with a strong urban image. The floating promenade adds a good groove to the project and extends the urban activities to the water.

    • NMT

      I totally agree. The solution is simple and obvious, i'm surprised that Foster or OMA didn't realize that. OMA should stick to buildings but not masterplans. I am without doubt that his scheme would completely ruin my great city.

      Perhaps WKCD authority can use his masterplan, but let Foster or OMA do the buildings inside. Nothing against him, but Rocco just simply isn't as good of an architect than these big players.

  • cyan

    Good job rocco and nice concept, but seems Rem Koolhaas one is more stand out in providing a really different and interesting space and env. foru cultural events in the town .

  • fasp

    Really prefer this proposal than from the Starchitects we have seen before… I know I am so young … but I still have an opinion! My repsects to Rocco Design Architects!

  • Seth

    Best Proposal thus far!

  • Its convincent, and you can feel the ideals and passion.
    The connections are real, and the area is for the people.. for all the people…

    The simpler and the most correct

  • Fingertip

    the most honest and pragmatic proposal, with a real idea on street life, though not as fasinating as OMA's. For OMA's, big picture is there, which brings a totally new vision to the land, but then more details have to be resolved to make the life become real.

  • fish fingers

    This one seems the most interesting and elegant. Some clever ideas, like the V shaped low rises. Rem Koolhaas, had sleep deprivation when doing his scheme

  • dizzy

    Best without a doubt, passionnate. Rocco>Foster>OMA

  • NMT

    As i walked the site today, I realized this is definitely the best proposals of the 3. The scheme is realistic and has a very humanist touch to it that are appropriate for HK. We need this kind of public space that are intimate yet not isolated.

    The actual design of the masterplan isn't perfect but the idea is definitely strong. He can use a little park design from Foster though.

  • Ben

    I prefer Foster's proposal, it's the trees, I like the idea of "urban forest". the other proposal are just another park.

  • JulesTheGeek

    The three schemes are so different I feel as though I'm comparing apples to oranges. Conceptually, OMA's is the strongest (you can argue the other two don't really have a 'concept' as such). Spatially, Rocco's is the most resolved (but hey, that's cheating and jumping the gun! This is only a conceptual presentation!)

    This is what I think:
    1) I like the romance of Foster's urban park- I can imagine sunbathing on its lawns like I would in New York's central Park. Otherwise the streets just feel like some new urban area in Singapore (and hey, this is not the same city)

    2) I like OMA's willingness to engage with the local context, and kudos to their understanding of how people of HK interact with it's city. But as architects they have to take charge and provide a design. Don't leave it's design to the people. What are the new building typologies that would be created in their design? Another problem with it is connection within the scheme: how do the villages connect?

    3) Rocco's design is sensitive and competent, and at first glance seems to be the best. But it is too tied down to specifics and way too resolved for this stage, I can see how it would be wrought with problems if it moves to the next.
    Great idea to wedge culture between an active waterfront and old city. But the entrance to the district seem weak.

    Well, there's my two cents. I hope people will see this stage of consultation for what it is: the architect's overall vision for the district, and not the specific architecture or site layout.

  • Pika HK

    1. OMA
    2. Rocco design
    Foster: OUT !!!

  • Darth Vader HK

    1. rOCCO
    Cultural art+education=best
    2. Foster
    Green+Green+green+Green=crap(whats the point! i can just go to the nearest forest
    3. OMA
    Devolution of HK=dog doo doo