A small concrete building with large windows in the front under a blue sky.

A Tour of the M+ Building Mockups

If you’re in the Nursery Park in the West Kowloon Cultural District and walking down towards the North Lawn, you’ll find two small concrete structures standing by the waterfront. They are what’s known as the M+ ‘building mockups’: simulations, representations, and tests of various design elements that will appear in the actual museum building, consolidated into two small constructions.

The mockups are important parts of the design and construction process, allowing the Museum Joint Venture Consultancy team (Herzog & de Meuron, TFP Farrells, and Ove Arup and Partners HK) to visualise and test out design features before implementing them in the actual museum building. This means they give us useful visual information about what the completed M+ building will look like—just in tiny, jumbled form.

Members of the public can only see these mockups from the outside, and are currently not allowed inside (safety first!). So we’d like to invite you on a small online tour of the mockups here on M+ Stories, and give you a small preview of what the finished museum will look like.

First Mockup:

Two small concrete buildings standing next to a lawn under a blue sky.

The two building mockups; the first mockup is on the right, and the second one on the left. Photo © M+, Hong Kong

Museum tower facade:

Going around to the front of the first built mockup, the one closest to the waterfront, we find a framework, covered by corrugated glazed ceramic tiles, representative of the facade of the M+ building’s future tower:

Closeup on a frame work consisting of dark green tiles on top of thin concrete slabs with windows in between.
Rendering of a building in a park, consisting of a long horizontal slab and a tall tower in the centre.

The tower facade framework (above), and rendering of the M+ building with its tower, which will be covered by tiles (below). Photo © M+, Hong Kong. Image © Herzog & de Meuron.

These tower facade tiles, made in Italy and assembled as part of the framework in China, are of a rich, dark green colour. They’re laid out in a horizontal louvre structure that will provide sun shading to the museum’s interior spaces.

Close-up of wavy dark greek ceramic tiles.

Close-up of the glazed ceramic tiles in the tower facade. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

The recesses in the louvres will be embedded with LED light bars to form a media facade on the south side of the tower towards the Victoria Harbour. The images and videos displayed will be visible even from the Hong Kong Island side.

Rendering of the M+ building at night viewed from across the harbour, showing the lit-up LED screen on the tower.

Concept sketch of the media screen on the M+ building’s central tower, viewed from across the harbour. Image © Herzog & de Meuron

Main museum entrance:

The area by the entrance of the mockup simulates the ground floor main entrance of the future museum building:

Front of the concrete mockup viewed from the front showing a large, dark door in the centre, and a wall of dark green tiles to the right and an entrance mat on the floor.]
Front of the concrete mockup viewed from the side showing a large, dark door in the centre, and a wall of dark green tiles to the right and an entrance mat on the floor.

The entrance of the mockup, simulating different parts of the main entrance of the museum, including the wall of ceramic tiles that will sit in between the sections of glass doors, and an entrance mat on the floor. Photos © M+, Hong Kong.

The concrete ceiling above this area of the mockup is about seven metres high; the same as it will be in the final museum building (see image below), giving a good sense of scale of the ground floor main lobby. In this space, a range of design elements corresponding to the future main entrance can be seen, from the ceramic tubes forming vertical columns along the walls, to the entrance mat on the floor.

Rendering of the ground floor main entrance of the M+ building, showing a row of glass doors underneath a wall covered in dark green tiles. A white square has been added to the rendering, indicating a small section of the glass doors.

The ground floor main entrance of the M+ building. The white square shows an indication of the potential area simulated by the mockup. Image © Herzog & de Meuron

The dark green tiles in this area will reappear in the main entrance and throughout the main lobby. The natural firing process of the ceramic tiles leads to interesting slight variations in the colour tone and surface texture across the different tiles.

Close-up of three tubes covered in dark green ceramic tiles.

Close-up of the dark green glaze of the ceramic tiles that will sit on the facade of the museum building. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

Together with the glazed finish, this offers a dynamic appearance across the whole tile facade; one which is highly responsive to different times of the day and weather conditions, creating a unique expression of the museum in the Kowloon skyline.

Close-up of one of the concrete walls of the mockup, showing a sign labeled ‘Restaurants’ with an arrow pointing to the left.

Testing out lettering on the walls of the mockup. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

In this area of the mockup, the architects have also tested how signs on the walls, such as those pointing to the restaurants or the bathrooms, behave on the textured concrete surface.

Two large doors inside the mockup, one of which is dark brown and the other of which is light brown.

The gallery entrance doors were tried out in two different colours to see which one worked best. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

Level 2 galleries:

Inside the mockup itself is an entrance door that leads to a mock gallery space. This simulates the entrances that lead to the galleries from the central Atrium on level two, where the majority of exhibition spaces will be located. The door is of two different colours, so that the architects and the client—that is, M+—were able to test out which shade would work better under the lighting and against the various wall and floor textures.

360 video showing the mock gallery space in the building mockup.

Inside the gallery space, the architects have experimented with the floors, walls, and lighting, such as painting the walls in different shades of white and reviewing the correct colour temperature of the lights in the galleries. Large glass windows (now removed due to safety reasons) were built to see how the gallery interior interacts with natural daylight.

Two doors opening inside the mockup to reveal a space with white walls and light wood floor.

A small gallery space that simulates the larger gallery spaces that will exist on the second level of the final museum building. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

This small room acts as an essential space to test out all of the visual and practical features of the museum’s white-walled gallery spaces.

Second Mockup:

The second mockup, located further from the water, tests out a variety of other museum features and design elements.

Waterfront entrance:

A small concrete building with large windows in the front under a blue sky.

The front of the second mockup with its large glass window structure. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

The most striking aspect of this second mockup is the large glass window structure in front. It’s a simulation of one part of the glass wall on the waterfront promenade level. In particular, it tests the relationship between the glass and the concrete, as well as its quality. The glass is slightly mirrored, so that, in the final building, it will reflect the surrounding harbour and landscape park.

Rendering of the M+ building viewed from the water, showing a waterfront promenade area with glass windows and doors to the museum by the water. A white square indicates a section of the glass windows and doors.

Rendering of the waterfront entrance of the finished museum building. The white square shows the area simulated by the mockup. Image © Herzog & de Meuron

Roof terrace level:

Around the corner is a simulation of the way the diagonal composite mega truss (learn more about the mega trusses in this post) will be exposed on the podium roof terrace level, corresponding to the various public spaces on the museum’s third floor, such as the museum café.

A large, diagonal mega truss encased in concrete sitting across a window in the side of the mockup.

A simulation of the large, diagonal mega truss that will be visible from the rooftop level of the museum podium. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

Inside this mockup, the architects have tested various interior features of different areas of the museum, including the future café lobby, the offices, and the learning centre. Due to its space limitations, this mockup in particular shows the unexpected ways in which different sections of the building had to be packed into a small house—a little bit like a continuously evolving puzzle.

Both mockups are playgrounds for experimentation, wherein design ideas are tweaked and tested. You find a myriad of tiny details in them that you’d likely never think about—but which are incredibly important to the final experience of the museum. We hope this mini-tour gives you a better idea of where M+ is headed over the next couple of years!

The M+ building mockups can be found in the Nursery Park of the West Kowloon Cultural District. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about them!

Image at top of post: One of the M+ building mockups, in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Photo © M+, Hong Kong

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