A major competition for a 40ha waterfront park in Hong Kong has been scrapped by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA). Thus, Foster + Partners' competition-winning City Park will be abandoned, despite its potential to transform the Victoria Harbour's reclaimed edge into an important Asian hub for artistic exchange.
Read on to find out why the WKCDA has called it quits.
According to a spokesperson at the WKCDA, the client has decided to seek interest in an "alternative approach" that would transform the fully landscaped park into "quality green open space with a cluster of modular arts and cultural facilities and 'pop-up' catering facilities, so that the Park could be delivered in much more compressed program.” These facilities would include a modular theater, a Black Box theater and an outdoor stage that would leave the Park more open.
The WKCDA has encouraged the original shortlisted designers to apply for their re-imagined scheme, but few seem enthused. One told BDonline that "they want a costed, full scheme for nothing - there’s no guarantee that they will even draw up a shortlist. It’s completely outrageous, we won’t be entering.”
Last year, Stephen Bradley at BDonline wrote a thought-provoking article arguing that Hong Kong's visual arts culture had "not produced artists and institutions of the stature merited by 'Asia's World City'" and that it "[could] and should have a much greater part to play in the development of greater China than financial exchange and trade logistics." He also added that the Foster + Partners' masterplan would be a perfect opportunity for the West Kowloon Cultural District to bring real multi-dimensionality to Hong Kong.
On another note, it appears that at least one of the WKCD competition-winning proposals is still moving forward: Bing Thom Architects' + Ronald Lu & Partners' Xiqu Center is expected to break ground next month.