Cities are defined by their parks, their public spaces, their streets, their laneways; by both their ordinary buildings and their civic jewels.
We have created the framework for an urban quarter in West Kowloon with all these ingredients – a magnificent park, a continuous waterfront, iconic cultural venues, colonnaded avenues, tree-lined streets and intimate lanes; green spaces offering tranquillity, and urban spaces that are inspired by the energy and rich mix of Kowloon's streetscapes.
All these places and spaces are supported by a network of service roads below ground and a public transport system above. The whole quarter is carbon neutral.
230,000 square metres of ground level open space including a 19 hectare park with over 5,000 trees.
32,000 square metres of arts and cultural software, double the original allocation.
16,000 job opportunities in various sectors from cultural to commercial to retail.
A new district for all of Hong Kong, for Asia and for the world.
One of the great things about Hong Kong is that beyond the world-famous skyline of towers is a wonderful natural world of forested hillsides, lush valleys and rugged coastlines. The undulating terrain of City Park reflects these landscapes and is planted with the same types of trees as well as a variety of exotic specimens. The groves of trees become closer as you move into the park, forming a dense canopy that provides plenty of shade on a hot day. The 19 hectare park brings the sights, sounds and senses of Hong Kong’s hinterland into the heart of the city and will be the first part of the district to open. Some of the things you will be able to do are relax in a tranquil sculpture garden, have tea in a pavilion, or enjoy a picnic on the waterfront. A shaded promenade winds along the harbour to the “green rooms” in front of the urban area, which link it with the intimate piazzas scattered throughout the city blocks.
We have taken a number of steps to ensure that City Park brings environmental and economic benefits to Hong Kong.
“Our approach is holistic. Sustainability must take into account not just buildings but infrastructure – particularly transport, because buildings and the movement of people accounts for 70% of the energy we consume,” explains Norman Foster. Our strategy incorporates all aspects of the district, from the arrangement of its buildings to integrating waste and water recycling systems, and how buildings can be designed to reduce the amount of energy they use as well as using renewable energy sources. Traffic, parking and servicing is below ground to make it easier for you to walk around at ground level, and the new public transport system is less than six minutes walk from any part of the district
You told us that cultural software should be an important part of the vision for this district, so we have created an additional 17,000 square metres for cultural education facilities on top of the 15,000 square metres that has already been allocated.
“Education is a vital part of the cultural district, if we are to ensure that it is sustainable and of its place”, says Spencer de Grey of Foster + Partners. “We must engage young people – it is from these seeds that the district can grow and become an international centre of creative excellence.” These proposals are a unique opportunity for Hong Kong to nurture the artists of tomorrow and to inspire a new generation of educators. Low-cost, flexible rehearsal spaces and exhibition venues (“black boxes” and “white cubes”) will mix with schools for performing and visual arts and recording and post-production facilities. Artistic communities and creative professionals will be supported by a dedicated centre for exchange of ideas.
City Park will form strong links with the rest of Kowloon. Its streets and buildings will reflect the urban fabric of neighbouring areas, and the park will connect to a network of green spaces throughout the peninsula, with the potential for the waterfront promenade to be extended in future.
Traffic and services are located below ground; this infrastructure base will allow the city above to be developed in an organic and flexible way.
Getting to City Park is easy. Covered bridges connect pedestrians to Austin and Kowloon Stations, and a plaza extends over Austin Road to West Kowloon Terminus. A green bridge to Kowloon Park will create a combined continuous open space of 40 hectares. The ferry pier is conveniently located for arrival by water. An elevated rail and a biobus service will stop at the major gateways and could potentially connect to neighbouring areas.
City Park is for everyone.
It brings together all aspects of life – culture, learning, shopping, dining, relaxing, living, working and having fun. All these activities are mixed together to generate an energy that reflects the dynamic nature of Kowloon’s streets.
Shopping and dining: at the heart of the urban area is a shaded avenue running from east to west and lined with colonnades. Strolling down it and through the network of laneways around it, you will find a variety of places to shop, dine and have fun.
Living and working: the urban area will have a wide range of flexible spaces to live, work and stay, with a variety of residential accommodation and the potential for 16,000 job opportunities. Several small hotels will be centrally located and also in the buffer building wrapping around the tunnel portal, which will have great views over the park to the skyline on the other side of the harbour.
Culture: the main cultural venues are embedded within the urban area, amplifying the creative energy of the district and creating a rich mix. The blackbox theatres are located at the corner of Canton and Austin Roads and will be the first cultural facilities to open; next door M+ is the gateway to the district from Canton Road. The iconic Opera House is located at the other end of the avenue, where the city meets the park. Along the waterfront are more civic jewels - the Concert Hall and Chamber Music Hall, the Great Theatre , and the Xiqu Centre, which will foster local cultural forms. The Arena and Exhibition Centre are located together and are close to public transport but well away from any areas that might be sensitive to noise.
During our 31 years in Hong Kong, we have absorbed the special qualities that make this city unique. We have listened to your aspirations for this district and sense the hope that it will transform Hong Kong on many different levels. Some key themes that have informed our plan are:
Foster + Partners has established a unique Advisory Board made up of leading practitioners and thinkers from the worlds of art and culture, including artists, performers, curators, writers, educators and policy-makers from Hong Kong and around the world. This pool of knowledge is central to realising the ambitions for City Park to become a global cultural hub that also showcases Hong Kong’s unique local characteristics; a place that can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, and will nurture the city’s arts ecology.
Sir Norman Rosenthal, Curator, says:
“Culture, in its widest sense can make a huge contribution to the financial success and well-being of this great city. One only needs to compare the geo-political position of Hong Kong to either London, Paris or New York, all cities with large populations, a deeply rich cultural life and also many ’stages’, to realize the importance of this project.”
Dr Jane Cheung, Educator, says:
“This is what has been missing in Hong Kong. With arts education at its core, the district will encourage Hong Kong’s arts and cultural sectors to flourish and to participate on the world stage. By encouraging interaction between performer and public, teacher and students, and between the artists themselves, this can become a meeting place for creative enterprise and cultural debate.”
Johnson Chang, Curator, says:
“The district is the best hope for this city to find a prominent position among cultural cities of the world – provided it is done with a global vision and an awareness of the pivotal role played by art and culture. Critically, the foundation is a clear understanding and definition of the ‘Hong Kong’ Chinese character – without the oriental clichés – so a spirit of place can be brought back to West Kowloon.”
Anthony Sargent, General Director, The Sage Gateshead, says:
“The original vision for WKCD was already one of the world’s most ambitious cultural developments. This new masterplan has the capacity to make a genuine cultural centre which is engaged in investing in Hong Kong’s future. The new facilities such as the Centre for Arts and Creative Industries, the Knowledge Centre, the music and art schools, and studios for arts, crafts, music, dance and other performing arts, recording and post-production create some entirely new opportunities: to provide vocational training, to use the arts in other social contexts, and to use the “professional” venues as a learning resource for young people. Cultural centres with lots of of students, young people and children are far more family-friendly and find that the energy of the young people gives back to the adult audiences that precious sense of discovery and excitement.”