What’s Going on at the M+ Construction Site? January 2019
When you visit the M+ Pavilion right now—perhaps to see the current exhibition Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint—you’ll find yourself next to the construction site for the M+ building. You’ll see a building that is well on its way to completion, with a finished tower structure and podium, but what exactly is going on? We’re here to explain.
1. The structure of the vertical tower is complete
Last time we wrote about the M+ building, the tower was in its early stages. Now, the structure of the tower is complete. On 30 November, M+ held a ceremony at the museum construction site to celebrate the official topping out of the M+ building. Earlier that week, concrete had been poured on the top to fully finalise this part of construction.
Once the museum opens, this vertical tower will house a library, study centre, member’s facilities, museum offices, and restaurants. The exterior of the tower will also feature an LED media facade, where images and artworks will be shown and will be visible from all the way across Victoria Harbour.
2. 92,000 cubic metres of concrete have been poured
Concrete is the whole world of this building: it’s used for all of the walls, floors, and ceilings. So far, 92,000 cubic metres of concrete have been poured.
Most of the concrete surfaces of the M+ building make use of ‘fair-faced’ or ‘architectural’ concrete. It’s the first time Hong Kong is doing fair-faced concrete on this scale. Fair-faced concrete is created by using forms and moulds to cast the concrete. To achieve the aesthetic requirements for the M+ building, concrete mixture is poured into moulds made of wooden panels, which cast an organic, wooden texture as the liquid concrete solidifies. The panels get recycled to create another batch of fair-faced concrete until they are no longer usable. The mix and match of different wooden slats that make up each mould contributes to a subtle variety of patterns for each slab of wall.
3. The facade panels are being installed
You might notice that the exterior of the museum is increasingly being covered by dark green ceramic tiles. These facade panels will cover both the vertical tower, and the horizontal podium below, which will contain the majority of the galleries. Two kinds of panels are being attached: one for the podium, and the other one for the tower. As of the publication of this post, circa 35% of the tower panels and 41% of the podium panels have been installed.
The facade panels for the podium consist of dark green ceramic tubes forming vertical columns along the exterior walls:
In comparison, the facade panels covering the tower also consist of dark green ceramic tiles, but laid out in a horizontal louvre structure. The tower facade panels are designed to provide daylight to the interior spaces, whereas most of the podium panels conceal and provide shade.
The recesses in the louvres will be embedded with LED light bars. Together, these individual tubes will form the imageries shown on the above-mentioned LED media facade.
The unique process of creating these tile facade panels has spanned Italy, China, and finally Hong Kong. (You can learn more about the facade creation process in this video.)
So, that’s a quick look at what’s going on at the M+ construction site! Check back in a couple of months for more updates and, in the meantime, keep track of the building process on the West Kowloon Cultural District website.
Image at top of post: The M+ building in October 2018. Photo © Eason Tsang Ka-wai