“Last week in Hong Kong for the MIPIM Asia Exhibition and Conference, EDAW CEO Joe Brown, FASLA, offered insight on Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District project. The project has been part of an ongoing effort by the Hong Kong government to inject vigor into the city’s legendary waterfront by creating a world-class collection of the best cultural facilities. Looking to the increasing competition of other regional hubs such as Singapore, Shanghai, and Beijing, the Hong Kong community has, since 1996, been discussing the cultural district as a key opportunity in solidifying the city-state’s aspiration of being “Asia’s World City.” The district would sit right on Victoria Harbor on a prime, but now derelict, site measuring 40 hectares.
After a lengthy tendering process, the Hong Kong government eventually appointed a local developer consortium to implement an ambitious scheme proposed by the architects, Foster and Partners. The plan as it was has since been canceled and mired in a cloud of doubt. This year, the government has convened a new authority to manage and implement a new plan for the area; a new tender has yet to be issued but is expected soon.
There are many parallels between the West Kowloon project and Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, where EDAW has been leading the urban design and public realm design as lead consultant. Saadiyat, like West Kowloon, has at its core a signature, waterfront cultural district that aims to transform a relatively business-oriented city into a high-art destination. Saadiyat will feature institutions such as the Guggenheim and the Louvre. West Kowloon, like Saadiyat, sits on a barren waterfront and would need bold architecture that addresses the rest of the city to be truly transformational. With this in mind, Mr. Brown was able to share EDAW’s work on Saadiyat to the Hong Kong community through several avenues.
Saadiyat Island Cultural District.
In an interview with the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, Asia’s leading English daily newspaper, Mr. Brown encouraged Hong Kong to focus on the quality of the art and programs that would be on offer. The Hong Kong Economic Times, a leading Chinese-language newspaper akin to The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times, profiled EDAW’s work at Saadiyat in a full-page article last week citing the project as inspiration for Hong Kong to emulate. Mr. Brown was also interviewed on RTHK, Hong Kong’s public radio station.”
[SOURCE: EDAW – Joe Brown compares West Kowloon to Saadiyat Island].