Hong Kong Museum of Art after renovation
Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA), the oldest public museum in the city, has recently reopened after renovation, presenting visitors with a refreshing interior and exterior. This time, I have specially invited two colleagues from the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) to talk about how to give the museum a makeover to provide visitors with more open views and enhance its accessibility. The makeover has also shortened the distance between works of art and people as well as the environment.
Opened in 1962, the HKMoA was first housed in the City Hall High Block and moved to its present premises in Tsim Sha Tsui in 1991. The HKMoA is now custodian of an art collection of over 17 000 items and has been curating a wide world of contrasts for almost 58 years. Originally composed of three trapezium-shaped towers with pale pink tiled façades, the museum looked similar to its neighbouring Hong Kong Cultural Centre. To make the museum more distinguished, the ArchSD launched a renovation project in 2012, which took seven-odd years from design to completion.
Changes after expansion
After expansion, the HKMoA has changed quite a lot both inside and outside. According to Architect of the ArchSD Mr LAU Wai-kin, Tony, the new building façades are mainly built of fibre cement boards that look like rows of rectangular blocks from afar. Using a special assembly method, not only can the indentations so created provide thermal insulation to lower the temperature of the building, they can also create wave-like visual effects on the façades under different levels of light during the day. The unique design concept was inspired by the waves of the Victoria Harbour, highlighting the museum’s special location beside the harbour.
Creating more entrances to enhance accessibility
To make it easier for visitors to enter the museum, the expanded museum has specially created more entrances. According to Senior Architect of the ArchSD Miss FUNG Wai-min, Vivien, visitors used to take the outdoor escalator or walked up the grand staircase, to get to the main entrance located on the first floor in the past. After expansion, the main entrance has been relocated to the ground floor, which gives a sense of arrival to the visitors. On the other hand, the first floor is converted to a reception lobby and a multi-function hall for thematic exhibitions and cultural activities. In addition, three more entrances/exits are provided on the ground floor, with one connecting the Avenue of Stars, to enable visitors to access the museum from different directions. The tinted glass on each floor has been replaced with transparent floor-to-ceiling glass panels to present a bright and visually permeable design that can also give visitors an open view towards the harbour.
Exhibition area increases by over 40 per cent
After expansion, the exhibition area of the museum has increased by over 40 per cent from 7 000 square metres to around 10 000 square metres, while the number of galleries has increased from 7 to 12. Vivien said that the museum has an overall height restriction, as required in the planning guidelines, therefore the addition of the top floor to the museum has reached its height limit. Consequently, the design team converted the rooftop of the museum into an extended roof floor, providing two other new galleries. Insulated Glass Unit with laminated steel mesh were used on the roof floor to reflect ultraviolet radiation so that visitors will not be affected by obtrusive light when they are appreciating the exhibits. The ceiling height of the new floor is also higher, which can accommodate larger exhibits. The 270-degree view of Tsim Sha Tsui and the Victoria Harbour enables artists to strengthen the connection between their artworks and the surrounding environment, and enrich the expression of the artworks.
A new annex block next to the museum
Besides, the architects have added a new annex block, also known as the Wing, next to the museum to increase exhibition space. Its first floor is linked to the museum and the two areas can combine into the biggest gallery inside the museum. As for the atrium of about 10 metres high in the middle of the annex block, it can display large-sized artworks and let natural light in.
The renovation of the interior of the existing museum
The layout of the second to fourth floors of the museum remains unchanged. However, in order to provide a contemporary feel, the architects have replaced the tiles on the walls and columns with new materials , including terrazzo cladding, bronze cladding, natural cement plaster and timber floor board. The main colour theme in the interior is mainly black, white and grey, which are in contrast with the warm bronze metal and natural timber floor. This interplay of colour and texture gives the building a modern appearance.
I appreciate the care and efforts of the colleagues of the ArchSD that they successfully overcame the constraints imposed by the original structure, the height, underground public facilities and the like of the museum to make the architecture unique. With the spectacular view of the Victoria Harbour, some areas allow visitors to overlook the views of Tsim Sha Tsui and the Victoria Harbour while appreciating artworks. I believe that, being a new landmark, the HKMoA will attract more members of the public and visitors to pay a visit, appreciate the exhibits and “check-in” to this location on social media.
19 January, 2020