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K11 MUSEA: Will It Be Hong Kong’s ‘Silicon Valley of Culture’?

100 creatives have had a hand in shaping K11 MUSEA. The new retail, art gallery, public realm, leisure and office complex attempts to fuse creativity, culture and consumption.

  • The Opera Theatre. Photo: K11 MUSEA



BY Narelle Yabuka

September 24th, 2019


There’s a great deal of ambition tied to Hong Kong’s new cultural-retail destination K11 MUSEA at Victoria Dockside. The entrepreneur behind the development, Adrian Cheng (Founder of K11 Group and Executive Vice-Chairman of New World Development), saw it as a way to fuse everyday consumption with culture and sustainability, and he assembled a small army of 100 collaborating creatives to help him achieve that vision.

Photo: Francis Chen, Vacuum Workshop (courtesy of RLP)

Architects, designers and artists compose the 100. Among the key architectural and design collaborators are Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), Ronald Lu & Partners (RLP), James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), PLandscape, UK lighting specialist Speirs + Major, OMA, Leigh & Orange Architects, LAAB and Danish playground designer Monstrum.

K11 MUSEA RLP_ph_Francis-Chen_Vacuum-Workshop facade over the water

Photo: Francis Chen, Vacuum Workshop (courtesy of RLP)

KPF, RLP and JCFO led the architectural design of the US$2.6billion, ten-storey complex. It offers retail, art gallery, public realm, leisure and office spaces across three million square feet.

“Ten years ago, we set out on an ambitious project to transform the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade into an arts and culture precinct, and K11 MUSEA is the final, most important piece of the puzzle,” says Cheng.

K11 MUSEA public area

Photo: Francis Chen, Vacuum Workshop (courtesy of RLP)

He continues, “Our vision is to reinvigorate the district together with 100 creative powers hailing from different disciplines and cultures, to make K11 MUSEA the ‘Silicon Valley of Culture’ and inject art, architecture, design, sustainability and all forms of culture into the new consumer’s daily life. K11 MUSEA is conceived as a space that inspires global millennials, and facilitates a broader discussion on the interconnectedness of creativity, culture and innovation.”

K11 MUSEA Donut Playhouse

Donut Playhouse, designed by Monstrum. Photo: K11 MUSEA

Says Bryant Lu, Vice-Chairman of RLP, “Not only will this [development] transform the Hong Kong skyline, but it will provide much-needed high-quality public spaces and a culturally enriching destination for the community.”

K11 MUSEA facade with stone and greenery

Photo: K11 MUSEA

The architecture was inspired by nature and the surrounding cityscape. The fluid facade of Portuguese limestone is stepped in to form a hill of green terraces facing Kowloon and Victoria Harbour. 50,000 square feet of green walls, designed by PLandscape, create a contrast with the stone.

The main entry features a specially designed pattern inspired by the days of the Silk Road. Beside it, a 2,000-square-foot sunken plaza offers a street-level setting for performing arts, cinema and music, with amphitheatre-style seating. It is lined with interactive lighting and water features.

K11 MUSEA Nature Discovery Park

Nature Discovery Park, designed by LAAB in collaboration with PLandscape. Photo: K11 MUSEA

Other outdoor areas include the Nature Discovery Park, which, says K11, is the city’s first urban biodiversity museum and sustainability-themed education park. It was designed by LAAB and Plandscape and incorporates rare and exotic butterfly-attracting plants and an outdoor aquarium. The area will host sustainability-themed workshops.

K11 MUSEA Bohemian Garden

Bohemian Garden, designed by JCFO. Photo: Francis Chen, Vacuum Workshop (courtesy of RLP)

The Bohemian Garden, designed by JCFO, occupies the levels 6 and 7 rooftops and offers alfresco dining spaces, cascading water terraces, a chef’s garden and an oval lawn (where gala dinners or outdoor cinema screenings can be held).

K11 MUSEA Opera Theatre

Opera Theatre. Photo: K11 MUSEA

The soul of the development is the a grand atrium space dubbed the Opera Theatre, which features fluid contours clad with hand-painted, hand-stamped aluminium panels created by local craftspeople and LAAB. A stainless-steel sculpture surrounding the escalators was also designed by LAAB, and resembles a sprawling root system.

Hovering at the apex of the Opera Theatre is the sunlight-filtering Oculus – embedded with over 1,800 programmable spotlights. The installation, designed by Speirs + Major, transforms the atrium into what K11 describes as “a galaxy lit by pulsing stars.”

Beneath the Oculus, The Gold Ball (also designed by Speirs + Major) is a spherical chamber for events and exhibitions. Nearby, a chandelier designed and made by Lasvit, named Victoria, references the site’s heritage as a transportation hub.

MUSE Edition K11 MUSEA

MUSE Edition. Photo: K11 MUSEA

An annex zone called Muse Edition, where a MoMA Design Store is located (the first in Greater China and the largest in Asia, with interior design by EDGE Design), features a preserved waffle ceiling from the 1970s – modernised by Speirs + Major. The waffle ceiling was first built by the Intercontinental Hotel as part of the New World Centre.

K11 MUSEA MoMA Design Store

MoMA Design Store. Photo: K11 MUSEA

The lighting design includes mouth-blown fixtures that resemble lighthouses. Underfoot, a floor of cement and shell terrazzo pays tribute to the nautical connections of the area. Around 1910, the site was known as Holt’s Wharf.

K11 MUSEA gap between blocks

Photo: Francis Chen, Vacuum Workshop (courtesy of RLP)

RLP’s ongoing work at the Victoria Dockside has seen the firm apply its ‘Innovation and Design Unit’ BEHAVE not only to K11 MUSEA but also Avenue of the Stars (with JCFO) and K11 ARTUS (with KPF and PLandscape). BEHAVE was used to focus on bioclimatic design possibilities to mitigate the urban heat island effect. A series of visual corridors, wind tunnels and urban windows were introduced at Victoria Dockside to maximise natural ventilation across the site.

K11 MUSEA view out from interior

Photo: Francis Chen, Vacuum Workshop (courtesy of RLP)

BEHAVE is conducting a microclimate and thermal comfort study on Victoria Dockside in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. A report, due to be released in Q4 2019, will focus on the pre-development and post-development scenarios in terms of community benefit in relation to the urban microclimate of the site.

K11 MUSEA has been awarded LEED Gold and BEAM Plus Gold Standard.

K11 MUSEA Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2012

Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2012. Photo: K11 MUSEA

As well as fuelling the input of multiple designers and architects, the ‘maison’ concept applied at K11 MUSEA sees more than 40 artworks by local and international artists featured in the development. The specially commissioned installations and a rotating collection of artworks create what K11 describes as one of the city’s largest showcases of public art. Among the featured artists are Elmgreen & Dragset, Erwin Wurm, Katharina Grosse, Adrian Wong and Zhang Enli.

K11 MUSEA Zhang Enli, Parrots of Five Colours, 2018

Zhang Enli, Parrots of Five Colours, 2018. Photo: K11 MUSEA

Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA designed KUBE – a cube-shaped coffee kiosk with an anodised finish. Cubical stone chairs flank the kiosk, and above it, a 45-foot-wide, 13-foot-tall floating balloon will be hoisted to create a ‘city canopy’ during major K11 MUSEA events.

K11 MUSEA Peacock Playground

Peacock Playground, designed by Monstrum. Photo: K11 MUSEA

In line with Cheng’s vision of creating “a muse by the sea,” free tours are being hosted by K11 MUSEA. These focus on the development’s art, architecture and furniture. Additionally, a ‘green’ tour is offered for a fee. Advance registration is required for all tours via the K11 MUSEA website, app. Self-service kiosks and ‘Koncierge’.