Confidence high for new arts hub look
The latest incarnation of the West Kowloon Cultural District will get the thumbs up from Hongkongers, a consultative panel confidently predicted ahead of putting the final vision before the public next week.
'We don't expect Hongkongers will say no. They chose it,' said panel chairman Professor Stephen Cheung Yan-leung.
The arts hub now features a more accessible Chinese Opera centre and more educational facilities, by public demand.
Architect Norman Foster, designer of the hub, will be present at the launch next Thursday of the third and final public consultation at the Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park, Tsim Sha Tsui. From Friday and throughout October, the public will be able to view a 1:250 physical model of the arts hub, a digital three-dimensional model, photos and information panels.
Cheung said the final design had incorporated features from the two other designs shortlisted in the second round of public consultation last year, and had been modified according to the public's comments.
'Some said they didn't want to walk such a long way to see Chinese operas, so the centre is now closer to Canton Road ... There will also be more educational facilities,' he said. 'But these changes will not undermine the original design.' That included transport facilities 'and, of course, the promised 20-metre wide seaside promenade'.
During the consultation period, there will be guided tours to help visitors understand the plan, and the opportunity to leave comments. There will also be a series of conferences to gather more opinions.
Cheung admitted that the one-month consultation was short but said the idea was to seek approval from the Town Planning Board by the end of the year.
'We will continue to consult arts and cultural groups,' he said. 'Some features can be fine-tuned if technically feasible.' And, he said, the panel would continue to listen to public opinion.
Once the project has planning approval, an international competition will be launched to design some of the buildings.
Cheung expected construction to start by the end of next year, and the first facilities to be open by 2015.