Though we haven’t heard hide nor hair of the much-talked about travel bubble with Hong Kong in recent months, one can still dream – which is where M+ comes in. For one, it’s a perfect fit for your metropolitan, skyscraper-clad dreamscape that is Hong Kong (with some contemporary visual twists). More than that, it’s set up to be the cultural centre when it comes to visual art, moving images and architecture and design, at least this side of Europe.
After all, the massive 65,000 sq m museum is nestled in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, itself a 40ha creation moulded entirely on reclaimed land that’s designed to be the next artistic and social nexus of the city. Think theatres, exhibition spaces and urban gathering spaces, including a 2km-long waterfront stretch and, of course, museums.
M+ is a striking addition to the iconic Hong Kong skyline, using ceramic components and a modular façade to stray just far enough from the glass-clad skyscrapers characteristic of the island. The dark green ceramics act as both shield and mirror, protecting the building from the corrosive effects of heat, humidity and wind, while simultaneously morphing in tandem with inclement weather, reflecting light in a bevy of brilliant shades. The south-side façade also features an immense media display screen, which serves to promote M+’s programmes while contributing to the visual cacophony that is Hong Kong’s night-time city vistas.
The museum was designed by a powerhouse team of architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron in partnership with TFP Farrells and Arup, wielding collectively more than a century-and-a-half of urban design and engineering experience. It houses 33 galleries, which pack some 17,000 sq m of exhibition space, as well as a trio of cinemas, restaurants, learning centres and a roof garden that provides panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and outlying islands.
Says Jacque Herzog, founding partner of Herzog & de Mauro: “It best expresses where we should go as a world culture, where diversity, equality and access to art of all kinds are expressed from the very beginning. This kind of diversity and broadness is part of the DNA of M+.”
A lightwell stretches across the entirety of the building’s vertical space connecting basement floors to the podium that the rooftop garden sits atop of, giving visitors an awesome view of the facility. This, in combination with skylights, gives M+’s exhibits plenty of natural, eco-friendly lighting. As a nod to Hong Kong’s heritage, the museum’s furniture, including benches, reception desks and ticketing counters, are fashioned from bamboo.
Staff are now manning the M+ building and a connected Conservation and Storage Facility, which is dedicated to the restoration, archiving and storage of the museum’s collections, in preparation for a public opening come end 2021.
The museum, much like the city is based in, is touted as a cultural crossroads for visual art from across the globe – one well-worth a special visit, not just a layover, from locals and tourists alike. Like we said, something worth dreaming about for when the time comes.
This story first appeared in The Peak Singapore