Hong Kong | M+ museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Place: Hong Kong, Country: Hong Kong
Client: West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA)
Project by:
Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd
with TFP Farrells and Ove Arup & Partners HK
Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
All images courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

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The M+ museum for visual culture in Hong Kong by Herzog & De Meuron

M+ is a new ambitious museum of visual arts, designed by the renowned Swiss office Herzog & de Meuron, together with TFP Farrells and Ove Arup & Partners, which construction has begun in Hong Kong in early 2015.

The new 60,000-square-meter museum, scheduled for opening in 2018, is located in the West Kowloon Cultural District, a new area, currently, under development on Hong Kong’s waterfront, that will include museums, theaters, exhibition venues, and a 14-hectare public park.

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Jacques Herzog at the foundation stone laying ceremony of M+ in January 2015

M+ is a museum that, under the direction of the renowned Swedish curator Lars Nittve, focuses on visual arts of the 20th and 21st century, including fine arts, architecture, design, photography and moving images, with special attention to Asian artists.

The M+ museum already possesses a collection of about 4,000 pieces; including works by Nam June Paik, Andreas Gursky, Henri Cartier Bresson, Zhang Xiaogang, Ai Weiwei, Kishio Suga, Tsuruko Yamazaki; Kwango Lee, Zhang Huan, Paul Chan, Zaha Hadid, Isamu Noguchi, Nendo, Frank Lloyd Wright, Sou Fujimoto and Shiro Kuramata, just to name a few.
A relevant part of the M+ collection was formed through the acquisition of the Sigg collection, perhaps the most important in the world of Chinese contemporary art.

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The design by Herzog & de Meuron for the M+ building is based on their winning proposal at an international architecture competition held in 2013; the competition shortlist also included world-renowned architects such as SANAA, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Shigeru Ban, Snøhetta, and Toyo Ito & Associates.

The project by H&dM is apparently simple but, at a closer look, reveals a fascinating complexity as well as an articulated sequence of different spaces.

Indeed, the building’s appearance when seen from the distance is defined by two translucent volumes, a horizontal box providing a series of flexible exhibition spaces and a roof garden on its top, and a vertical thin structure housing staff offices, workshops, educational spaces, and a panoramic restaurant. The facades of the two buildings can be turned into huge LED screens to convey messages, images, and text at night.

But, approaching it closer and closer, the museum will disclose a “secret” part.
Taking inspiration from the presence of an underground rail tunnel, which crosses the site diagonally, Herzog & de Meuron conceived an additional sunken level around it, an “Industrial Space” constituted by a diverse ensemble of functions and creative areas: a “black-box” exhibition space, an auditorium, spaces for installations, performances and the most innovative forms of art exhibition.

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The horizontal volume mentioned earlier “floats” over this sunken level, creating an open and permeable entrance platform that can be accessed from all sides.

The platform contains a public covered plaza, giving access to all major public functions, the museum shop, a temporary exhibition space, an auditorium, a learning center, and the museum lobby; a vertical cut in the floor slabs, along with providing natural lighting, visually connects the various levels of the museum and reveals the underground level to the visitors.

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The other shortlisted projects at the M+ competition

M+ museum Hong Kong SANAA

Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA

M+ museum Hong Kong Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano Building Workshop

M+ museum Hong Kong Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban Architects + Thomas Chow Architects

M+ museum Hong Kong Snøhetta


M+ museum Hong Kong Toyo Ito

Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects + Benoy Limited

All images courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

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