K11 Art and Cultural Centre, Hong Kong
Though the city is a global financial powerhouse and regional commercial hub, Hong Kong has faced a longtime lack of cultural institutions. Despite the popularity of Art Basel Hong Kong and the presence of outposts from several top galleries, the city’s limited number of art venues have struggled with building a legacy while the mammoth West Kowloon Cultural District has suffered from political uncertainty and repeated schedule delays.
SO–IL has collaborated with the CTF (Chow Tai Fook) Collection to fill this absence. Victoria Dockside, home to the CTF Museum, is a US $2.6 billion, a three-million-square-foot mixed-use site created by New World Development. It is positioned on the promenade of Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, a short ferry ride across the harbor from Wan Chai. The CTF Museum will provide a public home for the Cheng family’s impressive collection as well as play host to shows from other international contemporary art institutions.
The architecture of SO–IL’s museum, designed at the same time construction on the building began, is driven by the challenges of its unique setting: It rests atop a K11 Art Mall and below a dozen floors of luxury waterfront residences. The museum combines the top two floors of the podium, originally designed for retail and further food and beverage, with a generous rooftop sculpture terrace that boasts the magnificent skyline of Hong Kong as its backdrop.
Typical museums are closed volumes avoiding engagement with the often hyper-urban environment that surrounds them. Simply embracing transparency would also implicate the museum in commercialized city space. Instead, SO–IL proposed to envelop the floating museum with a facade made of glass tubes nine meters tall and one meter in diameter, each weighing two tons. From the street, the sculptural monumentality and visual distortion of the glass creates an abstraction, distinguishing the museum from its context. Up close, the glass makes its contents clear to visitors, introducing playful arrays of reflection and light.