Tuesday, August 24, 2010

WKCD

The newspapers and the online press have been going for it on coverage of the new proposals for Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultuaral District, with a lot of focus on the public consultation aspect. I have to be careful with what I say here, but, I wanted to add a couple of points that I think would be valid irrespective of any personal involvement. First, shame on OMA (and Rocco) for wasting their slots on the front page of the South China with basic hidden line sketch up models. If you want to sell your scheme to the general public surely you have to try harder than this>? It's a shame, because I think as a concept this is the strongest scheme. In contrast, while the Foster scheme looks the flashiest on the front page of the paper (good images here), it has some real problems that I fear are likely to be glossed over / missed in public consultation. Putting the small 'city' blocks where they have done means the new multi million $$$ West Kowloon Terminus will have it's view of the city blocked (where OMA open this up). Also, isolating the main theater box (large red blob on the left) means it's likely to stay as an isolated main theater. 





The concept of 'city park' is nice, but West Kowloon is a city park as it is and still no one goes there because it's such a pain in the ar*e to get to. The problem (and the challenge) of WKCD was always linking it back into the city and making it a genuinely vibrant community space akin to the South Bank in London. The new terminus was there to be used, not blocked. WKCD was meant to be about more than 'icon' buildings, but somehow Fosters seem to have fallen for that trap. Meanwhile, while OMA 'got it', and their plan makes sense, somehow I fear the general public of Hong Kong won't 'get it'.  As an aside, I also discovered that WKCD also stands for 'what kids can do'.