Cultural monument for Tamar

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 12:00am

Great cities usually have great cultural monuments, and Hong Kong has none.

When we think of Sydney, its harbourside opera house comes immediately to mind. It is a major landmark and tourist attraction.

We have also seen how Frank Gehry's beautiful Guggenheim Museum has succeeded in revitalising the sleepy city of Bilbao. Similarly, Los Angeles has discarded its image as a cultural lightweight with its magnificent Disney Concert Hall, also designed by Gehry.

The focus of Hong Kong is Victoria Harbour. But its beauty is compromised by the surrounding chaotic town planning and architectural mediocrity. The proposed West Kowloon cultural complex is too ambitious and, sadly, its off-centre location is also clearly wrong. I suggest we demolish and relocate the PLA headquarters that are next to the now-empty Tamar site - would one ever find a military garrison right in the middle of Piccadilly or downtown Manhattan?

A spectacular concert hall and museum complex should be built on the combined vacated space, designed by Frank Gehry or any architect of equal calibre.

The Guggenheim Bilbao museum cost US$100 million to build, but that was just eight times what our government was prepared to pay to subsidise the poorly organised Harbour Fest, which brought Hong Kong no real long-term benefit or image improvement.