Beautiful Journey · Beautiful World

Venue Design Concept

First Stage Venue Design

Venue Design for “Beautiful Journey.Beautiful World”

— By Kenneth TSE, Venue Architect

The idea of utilising containers as a medium of exhibition is not new in the world, but when it is put in the urban context of the West Kowloon reclamation site, another layer of meaning emerges. In Hong Kong, it is not hard to identify pieces of vacant land scattered around the territory. Some of them are reclaimed lands for new urban revival while some others are temporarily left empty after a demolition of the buildings previously there, waiting for their respective golden moments for redevelopment. These pieces of emptiness become the voids of our city fabrics, a discontinuity of human interaction. West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), a reclaimed land originally planned by the government to build a state-of-art cultural and commercial development, was being under review for reaching a consensus of views among the politicians, estate developers, art organisations and artists, art lovers, scholars, the media, and the general public. Up to this moment, the future direction of art or culture-related infrastructure on this site is yet to be clear. Though still vacant, the site possesses a physical presence that you can choose to acknowledge it, or to ignore it, but it exists nevertheless.

The working team has made a clear determination to pursue the WKCD site at the very beginning of this project, and therefore, given us a chance to ponder the double-fold meanings of this exhibition project. Firstly, using containers to export our local art works to overseas is an interesting activity in that the journey of each container is different from the other. It is totally contrasting to the attitude of importing foreign art works to the territory. “Beautiful Journey, Beautiful World” depicts the exploratory yet unknown journey, and perhaps it is this not-yet-know situation makes our lives exciting and beautiful. Secondly, our cultural context in West Kowloon is also exploring its journey. It is still not clear to us to where it would go. As an architect, I would like to share with you a few words from the master architect, Louis Kahn. Kahn once tried to write about Order in architecture. Finally, he simply wrote, “Order is.” Having been stimulated, when I think about the planning design for this container exhibition, I would rather develop the concept by rethinking the title as “Beautiful Journey is.” It implies an opening end with numerous possibilities, awaiting us to explore.

The site roughly measures 400m in length times 85m in width. It is a big site that gives us an opportunity to do more than an ordinary exhibition venue for visitors to stroll around. Referring to the curatorial statement by Stella Fong, she has carefully put the art works into five categories. Apart from purely planning the containers into different categories on the ground level, I take the chance to arrange them as two big Chinese words when viewed from the air, and have them written on the canvas site. The Chinese words 何去 means “where to go?” It is meant to be a question for both the art containers and the fate of the West Kowloon site.

At the site, I can see the metropolitan view in the distance over the harbour, the super high-rise commercial building in front of me over the station square, and the desert land I am standing on. It is quite a mirage scenery. As a response to this city mirage, on a closer scale, some of the containers are planned to frame certain views such as the yellow ventilation building, the blue sky, the distant metropolitan scene, or the rows of potted trees, reminding the visitors what are going on around them.

After all, this planning design is meant to be a departure point for the subsequent journey to begin. What do we now have? What will we then have? It all depends on how we plan our journey, and where we will go to.

Kenneth TSE worked for several architectural firms in Hong Kong after graduating from the University of Hong Kong as Master of Architecture. In 2000, he entered an open architectural competition with his partners and won the first prize. In 2001, he co-founded the architectural firm Meta4 Design Forum Ltd and acts as the Director and Architect for the company. He is interested in art, cultural and social phenomena, and has taken part in theatre and exhibition design.

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