West Kowloon Cultural District

The West Kowloon Cultural District confronts us with the task of turning an overwhelming governmental ambition, with a bewildering diversity of stakeholders, translated in a massive amount of real estate with an incredible richness of program, into a proposal that is fun and serious, planned and spontaneous, large but intimate, Chinese but international, iconic but practical, understandable yet surprising. To avoid the shock of imposing overwhelming change, we have chosen as the main model of our project a typology with which every citizen of Hong Kong is familiar: the Village.

A strong and recognizable identity in itself, the typology of the village liberates us from an obligation to express the identity of each individual element of WKCD as ‘iconic’ at the expense of all the others. The sheer quantity of institutions in WKCD would trigger an iconoclash, a sterile battle of the ‘unique’. The village enables us to absorb the massive scale of WKCD into manageable portions that in themselves resist delusions of grandeur and neutralize the threat of an alienating confrontation between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Kowloon.

The excess vitality of Kowloon will be the lifeblood of the West Kowloon Cultural District. Without this lifeline, WKCD will remain anaemic, whatever its size or beauty. It is crucial that the current frantic atmosphere of trading is not replaced by the plastic perfection of contemporary public space. At the same time, it is crucial to enliven the existing streetscape with outposts of WKCD—galleries, studios, workshops, theatre rehearsal spaces—so that Kowloon and WKCD will eventually merge into a single, hyper-diverse community.

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.

David Gianotten
Team: Yannis Chan, Giulia Foscari, Alain Fouraux, Alexander Giarlis, Ekaterina Golovatyuk, Ravi Kamisetti, Michael Kokora, Barend Koolhaas, Janice Kwok, Katja Lam, Michelle Lam, Jedidiah Lau, Miranda Lee, Brigitta Lenz, Brendan McGetrick, Betty Ng, Stephan Petermann, Benny Tam