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A large construction site in front of the water. Hong Kong Island is visible in the background.

What’s Going on at the M+ Construction Site? November 2017

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When you visit the M+ Pavilion right now—perhaps to see the new exhibition The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+—you’ll find yourself in the middle of a very active construction site. Right next to the M+ Pavilion is the main construction area of the M+ building, slated for completion in 2019. It’s loud, and it’s busy, but what exactly is going on? We’re here to explain.

1. The vertical tower has begun to rise

A construction site behind a row of signs advertising “M+ The Weight of Lightness”. Three drawn-on arrows point to the a vertical tower that rises up in the construction site.

View of the M+ construction site from the M+ Pavilion in October 2017. The vertical tower is marked by all of those arrows up there. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

Over the past couple of years, foundations have been laid and excavations have been made. Now, the podium—a horizontal platform that will house the main galleries—and the vertical tower are already being built. Over the next six months, you’ll see the tower rising up higher and higher. As of right now, it’s already reached the seventh floor, out of sixteen floors in total. The tower will contain a research centre, curatorial centre, restaurants, café, and a member’s lounge.

A building with a horizontal podium and tall vertical tower rising up from the middle stands in the middle of a park

Rendering of the M+ building by Herzog & de Meuron, with the central vertical tower visible. Image © Herzog & de Meuron

2. The five mega trusses supporting the building have been embedded in concrete

A construction site viewed from above. Five drawn-on arrows pointed to five large, separate concrete-covered trusses.

The five mega trusses, marked by those big yellow arrows. Image from September 2017. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

The M+ building is built above the bundle of tunnels for the Airport Express train connecting the Hong Kong International Airport and Central in Hong Kong Island, and the Tung Chung subway line. Because of this, the building needs five mega trusses—large steel frameworks—to distribute its massive weight safely over the tunnels. Having finished the mega trusses, and firmly embedded them in concrete, means that the most challenging phase of construction has passed.

Two images sit side by side. The left image shows two v-shaped orange steel frameworks. The right image shows a row of v-shaped frameworks covered in grey concrete. A drawn-on arrow points from the left image to the right image.

A beautiful transformation! Left: The V-shaped orange steel framework is a section of one of the mega trusses. Here, you can see what it looked like in June 2017 before it was encased in concrete. Photo © Eason Tsang Ka-wai. Right: one of the mega trusses, now grey, after the concrete pouring was finished in July 2017. Photo © M+, Hong Kong.

The shape and design of the inside of the M+ building actually plays with the design of the Airport Express tunnel. A major reason for why Basel, Switzerland-based architect firm Herzog & de Meuron won the M+ Design Competition was that they provided the only entry that responded directly to the condition of the site, rather than simply ignoring it.

Long hollow concrete blocks in the shape of a staircase have been dug out in the middle of a construction site.

The shape of the Airport Express train tunnel. Video still from here, © M+, Hong Kong.

By mirroring the tiered shape of the tunnels, a new gallery space could be designed, with an entirely unique and site-specific structure. This gallery is called the ‘Found Space’.

A tall gallery space inside a museum with multiple tiered levels, filled with a variety of people and artworks.

Rendering of the inside of the completed M+ building, showing the found space, which mirrors the tiered shape of the Airport Express tunnel. Image © Herzog & de Meuron

3. Bonus: an artist is visiting the site to document the building process

Section of a construction site viewed from above. Pieces of wood, boxes, and orange pieces of steel are lying in between two sections of scaffolding.

One of Eason Tsang Ka-wai’s photos of the M+ construction site in September 2017. Photo © Eason Tsang Ka-wai

Hong Kong artist Eason Tsang Ka-wai has been regularly visiting the M+ construction site since 2015 to produce artistic documentations of the M+ building process. Tsang is an emerging artist and photographer whose various projects, such as his 2012 series Landmark, Rooftops, render familiar spaces into unfamiliar territories. He will keep visiting the site until the building is finished, and has already produced dozens of photographs, some of which are sprinkled throughout this post.

A tall and narrow steel framework is silhouetted in between two sections of scaffolding, with a sunset shining through behind it.

One of Eason Tsang Ka-wai’s photos of the M+ construction site in September 2017. Photo © Eason Tsang Ka-wai

So that’s what’s going on at the M+ construction site! Next time you visit the M+ Pavilion, see if you can make out the different parts of the building. 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.

Video showing slow-moving drone footage of the M+ construction site.

A view of the M+ construction site from October 2017. © M+, Hong Kong.


Image at top of post: A photo by Hong Kong artist Eason Tsang Ka-wai of the M+ construction site in September 2017. Photo © Eason Tsang Ka-wai.

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