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Old August 31st, 2010, 09:33 AM   #741
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Arts hub costs should be disclosed now
27 August 2010
South China Morning Post

The three development projects that will define our city's landscape for years to come, the old Kai Tak site, the Central harbourfront and the West Kowloon arts hub, have been moving at a snail's pace. There is no denying the massive scale, high cost and complexity of each project, but the repeated delays over the past decade have more to do with government indecision. Officials stalled, delayed or simply scrapped proposals once public criticism began to mount. Some progress has been made with Kai Tak and the harbourfront. Now, it is time to move forward with the arts hub as well.

Last week, three designs were unveiled for the hub, each by a different renowned architect. The first round of consultation has been launched; and judging by the initial response, people are far more receptive to the current designs than the ones that were put together by developers six years ago. Thousands of people have visited the Convention and Exhibition Centre to see the three models and listened to presentations about them. This shows the people want to see the job done, but only if the plans meet high public expectations.

Part of the reason for the more sympathetic reception this time is that all three architects - as well as officials - seem to have digested what most people want for the hub. They do not want any more mega-structures like big malls, bulky office towers and luxury residential high-rises that developers inevitably favour. Instead, they want to see more trees, grass and wild open spaces where they can take a leisurely walk and discover the various art and cultural venues on offer. All three designs emphasise greenery and spaces for people to explore, and a wide view of the harbour. They resurrect at least part of a suggestion put forward by the last governor Chris Patten - to turn the area into the city's central park. That proposal was dropped after various commercial interests and developers insisted on getting their slice of the pie. Also, unlike previous designs, educational facilities and art schools are being added. There are, naturally, fundamental differences between the three designs, but all of them seem to have captured something of the public sentiment.

The design by Norman Foster features a 19-hectare park and 5,000 trees. Rocco Yim's offers small streets and different levels of greenery, commercial and residential space, and the core cultural buildings and museums. Rem Koolhaas' has far more facilities for arts and theatres than offices and homes.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen says the government aims to pick only one winning design after public consultation so that its core vision will be preserved. However, Tang, who is also chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, also wants to cover his flanks by saying desirable features from the other two designs may also be incorporated. This has led to concerns that the hub may result in a mishmash. Efforts must be made to ensure this does not happen.

However, outside features that may be popular with people should be used, provided they do not interfere with the core vision of the original design. Tang has not disclosed the cost of each design, but has promised it will not exceed the HK$21.6 billion budget. No consultation can be really meaningful if the people do not know how much they will be paying. Tang should spell out the costs now. It is clear Hong Kong people have an intense interest in the project and want to see an arts hub that will live up to its potential and make them proud. Officials must not squander this opportunity again.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 06:22 PM   #742
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new page
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Old September 10th, 2010, 06:29 PM   #743
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West Kowloon Cultural District's Conceptual Plan Option by Foster+Partners



West Kowloon Cultural District's Conceptual Plan Option by Rocco Design Architects Ltd. (English)


West Kowloon Cultural District's Conceptual Plan Option by Office for Metropolitan Architecture
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:01 AM   #744
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Old September 18th, 2010, 05:04 AM   #745
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By doncheng from a Hong Kong photography forum :





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Old September 24th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #746
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Very nice! I like the look a lot!
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Old October 4th, 2010, 07:30 PM   #747
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By [email protected] from a Hong Kong photography forum :

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr
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Old October 10th, 2010, 07:14 PM   #748
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Speech by FS at TDC Annual Dinner
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Government Press Release

Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the TDC Annual Dinner in London yesterday (October 5, London time):

Jack (So), Your Royal Highness, Secretary of State (Dr Vince Cable), Your Excellencies, My Lords, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

It is a great pleasure for me to join you again this year in London.

For many decades, Hong Kong benefited from wise counsel of Governors who had brought with them to Hong Kong their British experience.

I am pleased to note that Britain now has a Prime Minister who has brought with him to Downing Street a little Hong Kong experience.

A summer job in Hong Kong before going to Oxford University seems to have done David Cameron career no harm at all.

Unless, of course, you happen to vote Labour, in which case you may think differently.

Another person with some Hong Kong experience at Downing Street is Edward Llewellyn, the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. He was affectionately known as the "Small Turtle" while serving as the adviser to the last Governor, now Lord Pattern, from 1992-97. I know Edward well, and I am sure that he keeps fond memories of the time that he worked in Hong Kong.

It seems there is no escaping the fact that Hong Kong and Britain have a long history of shared experiences, of shared culture, and of sharing our competitive advantages.

Many of us here today have enjoyed the benefits of this close reciprocal relationship. I certainly have fond memories of my time serving at the London Economic and Trade Office right after the reunification. The generosity and kindness shown to me by friends in the city, in the business community, in White Hall, in Parliament, in the Chinese community and even neighbours of our home at Cowley Street remain vivid and warm in our hearts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, now that Hong Kong has a foot – or perhaps, more correctly, a little toe – in 10 Downing Street, I feel I should dispel any fears of undue Hong Kong ambition here.

If you believe what you read in the newspapers, Hong Kong entrepreneurs have many new business interests in this country, including the British networks of EDF Energy, a major high-speed rail company as well as Birmingham City Football Club.

Although, Hong Kong interest in this country's energy, transport infrastructure and even its greatest pastime may be disconcerting to some, I assure you we come in peace!

Seriously though, growing ties between us in business, sports, politics, culture and elsewhere enhance, and, indeed, reinforce the strong bond that already exists between Hong Kong and Britain.

We recently recruited British expertise, as we press ahead with the single largest project under way in Hong Kong – The West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD).

After a global search, Graham Sheffield, the Barbican Centre's creative director, was appointed Chief Executive of the WKCD Authority in March this year.

We recently entered Phase 2 of the public consultation on the WKCD. Three conceptual plans for the 40-hectare waterfront site are on display in Hong Kong for the public to view and to give their opinions. Please do check out the incredible designs on the Internet and let us know what you think. Or, better still, come to Hong Kong and see for yourselves how this mega project is shaping up.

Our goal is for the WKCD to firmly establish Hong Kong as the premier cultural centre in East Asia. To achieve this aim, the Cultural District will need a world-class master plan, iconic performing arts venues and, perhaps most important, it will have to attract audiences and the very best artistic talent from around the world.

The inspired conceptual plans come from three international firms, led by renowned architects – Hong Kong's Rocco Yim, Dutchman Rem Koolhaas and Britain's Norman Foster.

You may recall that Lord Foster is the architect behind the stunning Hong Kong International Airport building as well as HSBC's headquarters in Central – a landmark in the heart of our city.

Today, Hong Kong continues to provide new opportunities for British firms and entrepreneurs in the post-global financial crisis era. Asia has weathered the financial storm in relatively good shape, and Hong Kong’s economy is doing well. I am forecasting GDP growth of between 5 and 6 per cent for 2010, having revised my forecast earlier this year one percentage point higher. Given our recent economic performance, there are further upside possibilities, given recent performance in our exports as well as domestic consumption

I was encouraged by the visit of Foreign Secretary William Hague to Asia, including China, in July. During his trip, Foreign Secretary Hague spelled out his plans to engage emerging economies and deepen bilateral relations in Asia and around the world.

As British firms look to the strong emerging markets in Asia, Hong Kong remains the location of choice for companies to establish a base in our region.

By expanding our free trade agreement with the Mainland, and launching new infrastructure projects, we are continuing to break down barriers to cross-boundary trade and open up new markets in the Mainland.

Hong Kong has long been known as the gateway to the Mainland. Establishing the Pearl River Delta as one of the most competitive regions in the world, Hong Kong will become more like a multi-laned freeway into and out of the Mainland.

This will be good for Hong Kong, good for Guangdong and good for business – including British businesses based in Hong Kong.

These are just some of the ways that Hong Kong can attract more British business, British entrepreneurs, and perhaps even young, aspiring British politicians, to come to our city.

This brings me rather conveniently back to the subject of politics. As we followed the British General Election with great interest in the early months of summer, Hong Kong too had politics on our mind.

I am pleased to tell you that, at the second time of asking, our constitutional reform package was endorsed by the Legislative Council (LegCo) in June. This paves the way for more democratic elections for both LegCo and the Chief Executive elections in 2012. It also means we can now focus on achieving full universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017 and LegCo election in 2020.

This gradual and orderly pace of democratic development is stipulated in the Basic Law, our constitution. It is also an example of how the "One Country, Two Systems" principle continues to serve us well, 13 years after our reunification with the Mainland of China.

Ladies and Gentlemen, friends of Hong Kong, it only remains for me to thank you all for being here tonight, and for continuing to spread the word about our city's unique characteristics and for helping to keep the spirit of Hong Kong alive and well here in Britain.

I would also like to thank the Hong Kong Trade Development Council for organising this spectacular dinner for us this evening. And to wish Carson Yeung's Birmingham City Football Club a successful Premier League campaign.

I began my talk by referring to some of the people who, by fate or by design, in politics or business, contribute to the unbreakable links between Britain and Hong Kong.

Part of the joy of this annual TDC Dinner is that it helps us rekindle shared memories and reminds us of the enduring friendship between our communities. We can share stories about the past as well as ideas about how to strengthen our bilateral ties for many years to come.

A few weeks ago, as I was in Hong Kong preparing for this trip, it was impossible to escape news of Pope Benedict's visit to Britain. I was interested to learn that David Cameron brought in my former boss Chris Patten to oversee the arrangements for the Pope's visit. By extension, I would like to think we all have stronger connections in higher places these days.

Thank you very much.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 08:02 PM   #749
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Reserves of land would allow cultural district to expand
28 September 2010
SCMP

Ever since the handover, the Hong Kong SAR government has seen profitability as a priority with its major projects. It has taken an approach that is a commonly adopted business practice.

However, perhaps it needs to broaden its vision with the West Kowloon Cultural District. As Hong Kong Alternatives has already pointed out, we would like to see this site become a cultural green park ("Arts hub residential design code could create park for super-rich", September 6).

The government must broaden its vision when it comes to its financial planning for this project. It must look deeper into what we need and what is affordable.

We must also consider job opportunities, future population growth, what business opportunities will exist and the macro-economy.

In 2008 Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen was appointed as chairman of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. Is Mr Tang happy with a model where funds will be raised by selling property instead of inviting public support from the community? The government [originally] put a price tag on the hub of HK$21.6 billion. We have to ask if we can afford this from our reserves. And why is the government insisting on selling off 20 per cent of the land on the site for housing projects? It is, in effect, selling the hen that lays the eggs.

A land reserve is an investment for the cultural district authority.

Art, culture and education are valuable commodities and good investments. Therefore, there must be potential for future growth which means the arts hub will need room to expand and provisions must be made for this.

This district can be an asset rather than a liability for the government.

Over the next 30 years, our population will grow to nine million. With this West Kowloon cultural green park, we should be aiming for zero emissions and a site that is in harmony with nature.

W. K. Wong, for Hong Kong Alternatives
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Old October 19th, 2010, 11:32 AM   #750
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It is one of the greatest projects ever. Everything seems perfect. Thanks your for your useful information!
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Old October 19th, 2010, 06:05 PM   #751
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Hong Kong injects 387 mln USD for art development

HONG KONG, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Wednesday said the government has injected 3 billion HK dollars (about 387 million U.S. dollars) into the Arts and Sports Development Fund to provide funding for the continued development of promising artists and arts groups.

When delivering his annual policy address at the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Tsang said the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) Authority is conducting a public engagement exercise on the conceptual plans submitted by three world-class planning and design teams. The authority will select one of them early next year as the master plan, which will serve as the basis of a detailed development plan.

To tie in with the development of the WKCD, the government will strengthen the city's cultural software, develop the audience base, and support more small and medium arts groups, he said.

To allow arts and culture to reach out to the community, Tsang said the government

will display in parks, open spaces and government offices buildings visual art pieces created by budding artists, students or teams, and improve the image, facilities and services of public museums.

In addition, to facilitate the use of public library services, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of Hong Kong will provide drop-in boxes at major Mass Transit Railway interchange stations on a trial basis to make it more convenient for people to return books and other library items.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 02:27 PM   #752
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Money-making first at arts hub for HK architect
27 October 2010
SCMP

The Hong Kong architect who is one of three competing to design the West Kowloon arts hub has ways of getting round the problems expected from rising construction costs: build revenue-generating facilities first.

Rocco Yim Sen-kee wants to kick-start construction of the project with artists' residences, shops, restaurants and parks to attract visitors, as well as the required theatres and museum.

"We are not planning a mega structure that must be completed at once," Yim said yesterday, responding to public concerns that the HK$21.6 billion budget approved two years ago might not be enough, because of continuous increases in development costs in the region.

"The project can be built in phases," he said in a rare comment on the financial strategy of his plan. "Our tactic is to give priority to those items that can generate revenue and can enhance the attractiveness."

Details of financial models adopted by the three selected architects - also including Norman Foster from Britain and Rem Koolhaas from the Netherlands - have been kept under wraps while the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority consults the public on the three master plans.

The consultation will end next month, but the authority said financial details would not be disclosed then, as they were being assessed by an advisory panel.

With the launch of numerous big projects in the city and in the region, including the express rail link connecting the arts hub and the mainland, civil engineers expect a continuous increase in material and labour costs in the next few years.

"The government's estimates of construction costs are made too early and are seldom precise," engineer Dr Greg Wong Chak-yan said. "The quality of the arts hub could be compromised by either cutting the size or using materials of lower quality, if no extra money is injected."

The estimated cost of building the cruise terminal in Kai Tak has already doubled from HK$4 billion in 2008 to more than HK$8 billion this year.

For the arts hub, Yim's team proposes building in phase one, by 2015: the open space; a small part of the planned mega performance venue; and all retail and dining facilities under the green roof that is part of his plan, as they will generate income and bring visitors.

Members of his team said shops and restaurants - 16 per cent of the arts hub's gross floor area - could become a place where young artists were groomed and made a living.

"Live performances like jazz can take place in restaurants, where rental income should be fixed in a medium range, for example HK$35 per square foot," William Tam Wai-lam said. Shops should not be big-brand chains, but small outlets selling local or overseas art products.

Early development of artists' residences and workshops would sustain the retail and dining businesses by providing them customers.

The team recommended that the authority sell land for homes and offices in four phases, giving priority to those accommodating artists and workshops.

At least 25 per cent of the residential development is set aside for artists' residences under Yim's plan.

"It could be a campsite where young artists can exchange their ideas with their experienced mentors during a period of three to six months," Tam said, adding that offices in the arts hub would be of spacious design with high ceilings to cater for art productions.

Big venues to be completed in the same period include the Xiqu Centre for Cantonese Opera, a concert hall, grand and medium-sized theatres and part of the flagship museum.
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Old October 31st, 2010, 06:45 PM   #753
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Pledge to provide more space for outdoor shows
New policy too late for one festival

28 October 2010
South China Morning Post

The government promised yesterday to make more venues available for open-air performances, including outdoor music festivals.

But the news came too late for one outdoor festival which was cancelled this year. Organisers blame bureaucracy and lack of co-operation between departments.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing, responding to a question in the legislature on a lack of venues for independent music and open-air concerts, yesterday listed several initiatives to encourage and promote outdoor performing arts events.

Some measures, including allowing short-term tenancies for temporarily idle government sites, have been put in place. The government will also study the need to reserve land for open-air performances in new district planning.

However, the organisers of Clockenflap, the music and multimedia arts festival, have already postponed this year's event until next year.

Held for the second time last year at Cyberport, Clockenflap attracted 4,000 visitors, but organisers were denied permission to stage it there again, owing to residents' complaints about noise.

The organisers had hoped to move the event to the site where the West Kowloon Cultural District will be built. But Jay Forster, one of the festival directors, said there was "too much red tape" when dealing with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in applying.

Forster said that the Tourism Board spoke to the leisure department, but organisers could not agree on issues from crowd management to traffic control with the department, which manages the site with the Lands Department.

He said officials were helpful, but "do not have an idea of an outdoor music festival".

Organisers decided against staging the event this year, as its scale under the leisure department's restrictions would not be sufficient for them to break even.

Flora Kwong Man-wai, director of Wow Music, organisers of Wild Day Out, the Chinese pop-rock music marathon, has dealt with venue applications since 2003.

She said venue availability was one issue, but lack of co-ordination between government departments, from the police to the Environmental Protection Department, was the real reason "killing the scene".

"If they are not happy with the noise level, or the traffic arrangements, there's still no go."

She said that no Wild Day Out would be held this year. Organisers were planning to stage Green Live, a large outdoor concert next year. But instead of hardcore rock'n'roll, it would be an acoustic show.

Clockenflap organisers hope to work something out for West Kowloon next year.

"There's no outdoor-music policy in Hong Kong," Forster said. "We figure it's workable if [your event] is a government initiative {hellip} or you have someone high up [in government] to okay the event."
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Old November 9th, 2010, 05:30 AM   #754
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Artists go interactive to seek cultural hub views
The Standard
Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Artists and culture aficionados have launched an online platform to promote interactive discussion of the West Kowloon cultural hub.

The move comes just before the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority's three-month consultation period on three conceptual plans for the site ends on November 20.

Marisa Yiu Kar-san, creative director of the project, West Kowloon Cultural Dialogues, said the group has conducted video interviews since October with nearly 50 professionals who have given their views on the development of the district.

They include Chinese artist and architectural designer Ai Weiwei, who wrote on the group's website: "I hope it's not a bureaucratic project, but one that belongs to you all."

The public is also welcome to upload videos and share ideas, Yiu said. The videos will be submitted to the authority as part of the consultation exercise.

The project was organized by the Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, a non-profit group to promote design and culture through education.

Yiu said the group decided to launch the project partly because it found the current consultation exercise not interactive enough.

"When we chat with friends, we sometimes come up with new ideas about the hub project. We want to make isolated thoughts and conversations available to the public and promote discussion," she said.

Yiu said it will be a long-term project, continuing after the current round of consultations ends.

"We want to hold direct, face-to-face dialogue too, and we invite guests to express their views and discuss the West Kowloon project with their expertise," she said.

Graham Sheffield, chief executive officer of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, said he welcomes the ideas expressed on the platform, adding that the vibrancy of the district will come from the people who use it.
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Old November 13th, 2010, 05:31 PM   #755
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Thinking outside the box to make West Kowloon Cultural District 'for the people'
10 November 2010
South China Morning Post

Inside an elaborate set at the old Victoria Prison in Central on Monday, actor Daniel Wu Yin-cho and lawmaker Tanya Chan unveiled a series of short films on behalf of the non-profit-making organisation Ambassadors of Design (AOD).

The series, "West Kowloon Cultural Dialogues", is part of an online campaign aimed at making the West Kowloon Cultural District "more part of the public". The films, shot by AOD people, include random comments from Hongkongers on what they think the cultural district should provide.

"The public will benefit from the collective viewpoints and be able to better understand the project," said WKCDialogues' creative director Marisa Yiu (above, from left, with Bonnie Chan, Tanya Chan, arts hub chief Graham Sheffield, Wu and architect Eric Schuldenfrei).

Wu said the district should be "a site for fostering cultural activities for the public, and not for leisure and commercial use". Chan said: "Creativity is the combination of knowledge, talent, courage and thinking outside the box. However, our government does not give enough support to that."

The short films can be viewed on www.wkcdialogues.org, with new clips uploaded every week.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 07:25 PM   #756
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Arts hub lays foundation for nurturing talent
2 November 2010
SCMP

It's not known which buildings, or hardware, will go up first in the West Kowloon Cultural District, but the authority in charge of the arts hub is already working to cultivate the software, with education programmes and public outdoor activities.

The authority's first initiative on the education front is to invest HK$1 million in sponsoring seven partial scholarships for the University of Hong Kong's 10-month advanced cultural leadership programme, which starts next year. The money will cover most of the seven students' tuition fees of HK$160,000.

In announcing the sponsorship details yesterday, the authority said the scholarships were open to the public and would go to students chosen by the university. The authority would have a say on who would get the scholarships, but it would not be part of the selection panel.

The sponsorship is the first of a series of measures to nurture arts and cultural administrators and performing arts management for which the authority has set aside HK$10 million.

The HKU course, a collaboration with Britain's Clore Leadership Programme, is aimed at arts and cultural administrators with at least five years' experience in the field.

It will feature short overseas field trips and intensive courses and tutorials guided by a regional and international faculty, including John Tusa, chairman of the Clore programme and former managing director of the Barbican Centre in London.

There would also be collaborations with other institutions and organisations, the authority's executive director for performing arts, Louis Yu Kwok-lit, said.

Future programmes would not be limited to sponsoring students under a specific programme - they could involve conferences, seminars or sending people on overseas attachments.

The HKU course "is only our first attempt. We are negotiating with various institutions, including the Academy of Performing Arts, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Institute of Education, the Arts Administrators Association and the Arts Development Council", Yu said.

Five or six such education programmes could be organised each year, Yu said.

"The HKU programme features greater British experience, but in future we will support programmes of European, American and even Asian experience," he said.

"The whole arts and cultural sector has to switch to a learning mode in order to cope with the demand [for talented people]," said Yu, who earlier estimated that just the arts hub would need 300 such staff.

The funded students would not have to work for the arts hub after graduation, because the intention of such education programmes was to nurture talent for the whole community, not just the arts hub, Yu said.

"It's no good for West Kowloon if we get all the talent," he said. "Plenty of talented people will be needed in future, with more cultural institutions to be set up, such as the police married quarters on Hollywood Road and the Central police station. The arts hub will be better off only if the entire scene is thriving."

As well as funding programmes, the authority will have internships as part of its drive to nurture talent. It already has 10 interns conducting museum research.

Apart from developing talent, the authority is looking at starting to stage interim performing arts activities in nine to 12 months.

Yu said he hoped to stage more outdoor arts activities - possibly in partnership with a community organisation - on the site of the arts hub, as the city seriously lacked venues for outdoor cultural activities.

He said he understood many outdoor activities, such as music events like Wild Day Out and Clockenflap, drew noise complaints - and Clockenflap lost its Cyberport site for this reason. He hoped the arts hub could provide a venue for outdoor events. But he said the authority would not know the layout of the site until the development plan had been approved by the Town Planning Board late next year or early in 2012.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 11:28 AM   #757
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I love HK!That is the most modern, most commercial city which I have been to
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Old December 21st, 2010, 06:40 PM   #758
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Foster rejects criticisms of arts hub plan
17 December 2010
SCMP

Norman Foster has defended his design for the West Kowloon Cultural District, including its 5,000-tree waterfront park, saying there is much more to the design than has met the eyes of critics so far.

"I think that if there's been any fault, it's been our fault," the British architect said. "We have not communicated what we've designed perhaps as well as we should have."

He rejected criticisms by local architects that his plan for the site, dubbed City Park, lacked local character and its trees would be costly to maintain. "The park is absolutely unique to Hong Kong. It uses the species you find in the countryside around Hong Kong. And it's unique because of the waterfront setting."

But people should not just look at the park, he said, highlighting the design's "main avenue", which was intended to be a miniature of a typical bustling street in Hong Kong such as Nathan Road and Tung Choi Street, where mixed uses are common.

The avenue, on the eastern side of the arts hub stretching from Canton Road past the terminus plaza of the Hong Kong-Guangzhou express rail link, is a mixture of theatres, concert halls, the M+ museum, shops, restaurants, arts schools, flats and hotels.

"We've shown how we understood the DNA of Hong Kong... We've made an extension of the city in which all the activities are all very close to each other," said Foster, who is working on the design for the third time since 2001. "What makes Hong Kong special? Most people would say the energy, bustle, the mixture. Probably we all want to reduce the pollution, the inconvenience, the danger of too much traffic," he said, highlighting zero-carbon measures, including recycling waste to create energy, renewable energy generation and district cooling and heating.

He also disagreed with another criticism, that buildings on the avenue would block the view from the public square of the terminus of the Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed railway, saying that space was reserved for a tree-lined avenue that would lead passengers from the square to the waterfront.

Commenting on the work of his two rivals, Foster said the scheme presented by local architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee was "essentially a podium with landscaping". "As we all know, it is very difficult to grow mature trees out of a landscaped deck with concrete underneath it. That is not a criticism, it is an observation."

The entry by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas "really doesn't have all the opportunities to interact and cross-fertilise... It is not a city concept in that sense", he said.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is summarising views collected in a public consultation that ended last month. Officials have said it could opt for a combined scheme that includes popular features from each of the three plans, with one of them as the base. Critics fear this would result in a mishmash.

Foster declined to comment on whether it was feasible to combine the plans but said it would be an "interesting challenge". As for any features of his he hoped would be selected, he stood by his idea: "Hong Kong is a compact city. Everything is convenient in terms of walking distance. You need a contrast to that. So I think Hong Kong deserves a great park which is special to it. It's not like Central Park or Hyde Park."
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Old December 29th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #759
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Confusion still clouds debate over West Kowloon schemes
8 December 2010
SCMP

The article based on comments by local architects on the three master plans for the West Kowloon Cultural District ("Arts hub does not need a forest, say local architects", November 20), and the subsequent letters criticising the architects for not supporting Norman Foster's park, show that despite a three-month consultation, 30,000 exhibition visitors, 4,000 students, 78 schools, 12 forums, nine focus group meetings, 7,000 completed questionnaires, 160 written submissions and 100 entries via Facebook, there is little understanding of the key differences and critical choices put forward.

Firstly, there is the issue of the park. All three have the same amount of parkland as specified in the brief. Foster has one big park on the back of the site, Rocco Yim Sen-kee's park is broken up in many different parts and Rem Koolhaas' has three clusters, or villages, that can grow and take on their own identity over time, with two parks separating them and also serving as connections.

Secondly, the architects differ in the list of venues. Foster follows the brief and provides an empty envelope for others to decide what to put in it. Yim and Koolhaas dare to take a view and explain that the M+ concept is too big and offer alternatives. Koolhaas takes the biggest step into cultural policy by proposing a lot of space for art production facilities under the theme "Art at Work". This makes sense as high land prices make it difficult for artists to set up high-ceiling studies in Hong Kong, and artists residing and working in West Kowloon will bring more diversity.

Thirdly, there is the waterfront. Foster's scheme varies little and is a "walk in the park" from east to west. Yim proposes pontoons - a feature with a high maintenance cost - and sloping roof gardens.

Koolhaas has the longest waterfront, which constantly changes from inlets, to parks and along bars and restaurants, and more.

Fourthly, transport. Yim and Koolhaas highlight the need for better linkages. Foster proposes a skyrail, Yim a street-level tram, and Koolhaas an underground travelator. I would pick the tram, as monorails require obtrusive concrete structures, and why spend more time underground than you have to?

The fifth issue is walkability. Foster and Koolhaas both work with one street-level site. Yim has you change levels between different destinations.

These and other choices are not apparent after the consultation because bureaucrats rewrote the architects' presentations, scripted the public forums, and created a rambling questionnaire. This unnecessarily stifled the discussion in the community and weakened the input the authority needs to feel its way forward.

We know the importance of this investment succeeding. We know the inherent difficulty of one site, all venues, one bureaucracy for development of the district. Given all this, only a truly open debate will ensure the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has a chance to succeed beyond the glass and concrete.

Paul Zimmerman, Designing Hong Kong
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Old January 4th, 2011, 05:09 PM   #760
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Harbour safe, Dutch team says in defending bridge
4 January 2011
South China Morning Post

A bridge proposed for the West Kowloon arts hub does not involve any reclamation and will enhance harbour features, its design team says.

Led by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, the Dutch team has defended the bridge proposal against harbour protection activists who worry about losing more of the shoreline to reclamation. The bridge is seen as a stumbling block to winning over critics for a design that otherwise has been gaining public support.

The bridge, to hover above the Yau Ma Tei typhoon shelter, is designed to alleviate traffic brought by the future cultural venues. It does not actually land on the harbour.

The team's lead architect, David Gianotten, said the bridge would not violate legislation protecting the harbour because it did not involve any reclamation and nor would it reduce the size of the harbour.

"Instead of taking away the harbour, we give something back," he said. "I think the government also trusts this [legal advice] or else we would be disqualified."

Legal advice obtained by the team says the bridge does not create new land and it lands on an existing breakwater and shoreline. As the bridge is designed as a suspended arc with no pillar, vessels can still pass through the typhoon shelter and marine traffic will not be disturbed.

Gianotten said the plan gave the district a net gain of water. Due to the provision of a floating black-box theatre and use of water taxis as alternative transport, the plan creates two water inlets of 0.7 hectare.

The team calculated that traffic at at least five road junctions - on Jordan, Austin and Canton roads - will worsen critically, and not only during peak hours, when the arts hub opens. But with the bridge, traffic congestion at most junctions will improve. However, Canton Road still faces congestion and the team advises that it be widened.

Gianotten, who briefed the selection panel of the arts hub authority on the team's financial model last month, said the bridge was financially viable. He refused to confirm its cost, but said it would be far less than the economic loss from traffic jams.

Described as the most creative and realistic design for the arts hub, the Dutch plan does not conform as closely as the other teams' designs to the planning guidelines set by the authority. Dividing the hub into three villages, it proposes fewer cultural venues and sets aside a substantial amount of the budget as endowment for cultural development. Some critics say the plan could spark public controversies and slow down the development process.

"If you want to build the arts hub, there will be controversy - or else you will build something mediocre," Gianotten said. "This high ambition that should put Hong Kong on the map of world culture, make it the cultural hub of Asia, without having controversies or stepping on somebody's toes, it's simply impossible.

"There will be things in a plan with that ambition that need the government to change. Or else you can't realise an ambition like that."

Despite a sharp increase in construction costs in the region, he said the budget of HK$21.6 billion was more than enough. "The only thing you need to do is to spend it wisely. It's an enormous amount of money that has never been set aside for culture anywhere in the world."

He said the authority should wisely invest the endowment so revenue from it could cover the rising construction costs.

"Don't maximise the profit of developers because it's simply not needed," he said. "You don't have to sell all the houses there with top prices. The thing is feasible, sustainable, in our belief."

The authority is expected to announce the winner early this year.

The rivals of the Dutch team, Britain's Norman Foster and local architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee - whose design features a large urban park and interconnected open space - have also defended their schemes in the past few months. The latter has gained the support of the Arts Development Council.
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