2017年7月14日 星期五

Getting Acquainted with the WKCD (認識西九文化區)

I've heard and read in bits and pieces about what's come to be called the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) for a while but I never visited the site after actual construction of the relevant facilities began in earnest. Yesterday, I did so.

I first had to cross the highway serving the Western Harbour Crossing tunnel from the Kowloon Station of the MTR's Tung Chung Line to the seafront

The red building the left of the overhead pedestrian walkway is the site of the WKCD Authority, a statutory body established with an endowment of some HKD21.6 billion in 2008 for the purposes of planning and implementing projects for the development of the 40-hectare WKCD to enhance the cultural life of the HKSAR. It's current CEO is Duncan Pescod, its former Chief Operating Officer who took over the post when the Australian arts administrator Michael Lynch appointed in 2011 resigned in 2015 amidst political controversy over the interests of different local art and culture related groups. According to the official website of the Home Affairs Department, the WKCD "aims to promote the development of arts and culture, meet the growing cultural needs of the public and strengthen Hong Kong’s position as an international arts and cultural metropolis" and will include some "17 core arts and cultural venues as well as space for arts education.."

To the left of the site, there's a typhoon shelter for various  dumb lighters connected with the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

Rising high behind the site of the WKCD are the HSBC Yau Tsim Mong District Branch. At its side are the luxurious tower blocks of the Island Harbour View.

Various boats moored along the seafront 

This is the famous" wind chime corridor" at the western side of what's called the "West Kowloon Seafront Promenade".It's ground are now overgrown with grass and weeds.

One gets a panorama view of the western portion of our famous harbor..

This is the corner of the wind chime corridor

The corridor continues on the southern side of the Promenade

To the left of the photo is a view of the Western District of Hong Kong Island and to the right the western New Territories.

Various cranes involved in building some of the facilities of the WKCD. According to the  published plans, building will come in three phases. 

In the first phase, expected to be completed by 2018, the following will be built:
(1) a Temporary Nursery Park, at the northwestern part of the site, with a few lawns, a pet zone and an experimental nursery for plants. Parts of it have been completed and have been open to the public since July, 2015  It's where regular "Freespace Happening" will take place.
(2) Art Park including
(a) a T-shaped M+ Pavilion (focusing on 20th and 21st centuries visual art, architecture, design, pop culture, film, video and other moving images, opening in September 2016).  A collection of more than 1,400 contemporary Chinese art works, estimated to be worth $163 million, has been announced in 2012 to be donated to M+ by the collector Uli Sigg. The collection will form part of the permanent collection of the museum. In addition, the museum has already acquired 47 other art works at a cost of $23 million. The M+ now has more than 6,000 art works in all. The HKD642 million museum is designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architectural team Herzog & de Meuron and TFP Farrell.

(b) Freespace (which includes a black box theatre, with standing and seating spaces, a foyer lounge, plus a lawn where an outdoor stage can be set up: expected to be completed by 2019)  
In January 2012, a weeklong West Kowloon "Bamboo Theatre"  was held here to celebrate the start of building works at the WKCD at the site of the future Xigu Centre: a combination of traditional Cantonese opera, contemporary visual art installations and film shows, drawing in some 12,000 spectators. It's planned that every year, a similar event lasting 3 weeks will be held with the additions of Chinese music and dance performances etc. and a two-day Free Space Festival will be also held there for contemporary music and performing arts, street art and other related artistic activities by artists from both Hong Kong and China. 

The second phase, expected to be completed by 2021, will add to the WKCD
(1)  The Lyric Theatre Complex with three components viz. a 1,450-seat theatre, a 600-seat medium theatre and a 250-seat studio theatre plus a A Resident Company Centre with extensive rehearsal facilities.
(2) a Centre for Contemporary Performance with two Black Boxes.

In phase 3, with no specific dates except that it would be after 2020, the following will be built:
(1) the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum, announced in Dec, 2016 by our current CE, then chairman of the WKCD Authority, at the southern tip of the 10,000 square metres site, originally reserved for building a "Mega Performance Venue"( "MPV")  and Exhibition Centre".  The new HK Palace Museum is expected to have 30,500 square metre of floor space and will house two exhibition galleries plus activity rooms, souvenir shops and a restaurant and a 400-seat lecture theatre,. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust will donate HKD$ 3.5 billion for its design, construction and exhibition preparation works. Rocco Yim, a Hong Kong architect has been commissioned to design the Palace Museum. The foundation and construction works are expected to begin this year and the WKCD Authority  hopes to inaurguate it 2022. But it now looks unlikely.
(2) a 2,000 seat  Musical Theatre
(3) a Great Theatre
(4) a Music Centre with Concert Hall and Recital Hall
(5) a 600-seat Medium Theatre 

As a result of the sudden interposition of the HK Palace Museum project upon the original plans for the site, the WKCD Authority is now considering switching the site of the  originally planned MPV from the current Nursery Park to the northern part of WKCD and build there a medium-sized multipurpose venue for exhibition, convention and performance through private finance initiative.

In addition, there may be an M+ Phase 2 and a Xiqu Small Theatre. A lot of uncertanties now overhang the possible future of the WKCD.. 

Is this an image of the future of the WKCD? Little on the ground, plenty of dark clouds overhead but with bright spots too.

Whatever the future may hold, it's life as usual for the boats plying our harbor.

and trees continue to seek air, light and growth, whatever the obstacles human beings may put in their way.

and the clouds continue to hug our sky line.

Building works seem never to cease in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong continues to be dominated by huge corporations, financial instutons, big property developers and multi-nationals.

But the sky, the clouds, the grass and trees are indifferent.

They continue to lie there, quietly growing, breathing, changing, moving according to their own rhythms, the same way they have done for millions of years past. 

The tunnels and MTR trains need to breathe too.

Beneath the towering clouds, on the fence are a row of posters for the "Canton Express", a retro-recreation of the 37 works of 14 avant garde Canton artists who exhibited at the 50th Venice Bienniale in 2003, donated to M+ in 2013 by the collector Guan Yi.

Glass,steel and concrete

Reflections on the exterior of the M+ Museum

The M+ is a T-shape structure with a long horizontal arm for exhibition attached to a tall vertical plate like rear block housing the museum 's growing  collections and administrative offices

The not entirely even surface of the glass panels creates strange s patterns of its surroundings.

More magic of reflective distortions.

The stairs leading up to the entrance of the M+ Museum

2017年7月10日 星期一

A new adventure (新冒險)

I'm familiar with D'Aigular Street in Central. But I never knew until recently that's there's a beautiful place called Cape D'Aguilar, or Hok Tsu. It's a cape south of Shek O on the south-eastern tip of Hong Kong Island.  The cape is named after after Major-General George Charles D'Aguilar.

I got off the at the intersection of Shek O Road and Cape D'Aquilar Road and walked along the road for some 10 minutes before arriving at the road actually at a round about where I discovered that in fact, It's served by Route No. 9 Bus.  There were plenty clouds in the sky.

It was a fairly hot day. Fortunately, the  road was full of very dense vegetation and many parts of the road were protected from the sun by a cover overhanging leaves or the tree.in the direction from which the sunlight came. Occasionally, one can get a glimpse of the sea when the bushes at the side of the road were not so tall. In the distance at the tip of the peninsula on the opposite side of the sea is the Earth Satellite Station.

There were not very many interesting flowers

Only this red pod-like flower

There were some low rise residences opposite.

a very rectangular rock on the left of the road

The rock surface below was covered with moss

A very personalised notice of the village post boxes.

a peony I found at the side of the road

Another one

a house surrounded by trees


A green shed

A warning sign for mud slide

closer to the cape now

The path leading to the seaside

A sea cave at the side of the path

There are a number of such wireless antennae towers in the area

A huge cap like tree full of  Plumeria rubra (紅雞蛋花)

My first glimpse of the cape. In the distance is the Swire Institute of Marine Science (SIMS") first established in 1994 by the HKU Biology Department to study marine life in Hong Kong

The shallow cover

It had a fairly flat wave cut platform.

As it was sheltered, the waves are not that strong.

The 20 hectare area has been designated a Marine Reserve in July 1996 for conserving marine resources, scientific studies and public education. Within the area, no fishing, swimming, boating and collection of plant and marine life samples are permitted

The Memorial relating to such designation erected in September of that year. It was Hong Kong's very first Marine Reserve.

A killer whale skeleton outside the  SIMS.

Clouds rising between the  a pair of small islands protecting the cove, called Kau Pei Chau (狗髀洲), to the south of the SIMS

I met a young couple trying out their recently bought aerial photograph gadget which they got a about HK5,000

He operated with an apps from his mobile phone. It was quite steady.

A huge arch at the tip of the cape. We got this in Hong Kong too, not just at Cape Santiago.

Another view of the arch

There was a small wave pool to one side of the arch.

 Plenty of clouds over the horizon

And clouds over the arch too

We had to cross over this rocky patch to get a better view of the sea

A view of the sea from under the Notice of the Marine Reserve.

There appear to be two jet jetstreams across the sky both converging towards the cloud over the hills opposite

The Marine Reserve Notice from a higher vantage point

The sea was so blue

a more distant view of the arch

Plenty of clouds today but no rain

One could see a rocky reef line crossing the cove towards Kau Pei Chau on the right

The famous light tower there, first opened in 1975, the oldest in Hong Kong, is now operated automatically. So no one is manning it and the stairs leading up to it are now blocked by a small gate. So could'nt get a closer look.  It's one of the five oldest ones. The Lighthouse is now one of our declared historic heritage monuments.The others are on Green Island, Tung Lung Chau and Waglan Island, the last two of which also enjoying similar status.

A better view of Kau Pei Chau

A boat speeding across the sea

One of the containers of the SIMS

One of the containers of the SIMS.

Looking back at the SIMS

One of the containers of the SIMS

The sea was really quiet.

a huge accumulation of white clouds towering over the New Territories.

The sun was obscured by this huge cloud

My last look at the sea that day, a tired but satisfied man