Page D1.1 . 16 July 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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West Kowloon Reclamation Competition

by Bernard Chan

By staging an open competition for the West Kowloon Reclamation master plan, Hong Kong has finally moved into line with a method that is widely adopted worldwide for selecting architects for major civic design projects.

The change has unlocked previously denied opportunities for private-practice architects to participate in the design of civic buildings. It is a change in direction that most architects in Hong Kong have been longing for. Their response was overwhelming: local architects accounted for 71 of the 161 entries.

The competition, concluded in 2002, invited conceptual proposals for the development of a cultural district on a prominent waterfront area at the West Kowloon Reclamation (WKR), on the western strip of the Kowloon Peninsula. The objective, according to the competition brief, was "to enhance Hong Kong's position as Asia's premiere center of arts, culture, and entertainment and create a new look for Victoria Harbour."

The brief further called for " and innovative and viable ideas that will shape the future development of this waterfront area as a unique attraction for both local people and visitors."

It is clear that this project holds great significance for Hong Kong, given the prominence of the site and the vast scale of its 100 acres (40 hectares) of newly reclaimed land. Less clear is how any single design proposal can fulfill the attempt by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the HKSARG) to turn Hong Kong into a "world-class city of arts and culture."   >>>

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Physical model of the prize-winning scheme for Hong Kong by Foster and Partners.
Image: Foster and Partners

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The Foster scheme leaves vast open space, unusual for this high-density city.
Image: Foster and Partners


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