The Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA or the Authority) held its 83rd meeting today. In the meeting, WKCDA’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Duncan Pescod reported that two harbour-side cafes set along the scenic waterfront in the Art Park in the West Kowloon Cultural District (West Kowloon or the District) had opened recently, offering the public a perfect place to relax. REST is a cafe by day and a bar by night serving original coffee flavours, alcoholic beverages, snacks and customised drinks for every taste; and Pet-friendly Hooman serves specialty coffee, delicious snacks and doggie treats.

The Art Park offers stunning harbour views, great lawns, unusual performances, coffee and snacks to its visitors. Four more cafes and restaurants will come, providing a total food and beverage experience to visitors to the District. Mr Pescod added that the food and beverage offering in the Art Park does not end there, The Livehouse in Freespace is starting its trial run with exciting food and drinks and music performances, and its grand opening will be held in fall 2019.

This summer, the Authority also saw more food and beverage outlets opening in the Xiqu Centre. Don’t Yell At Me gives you a perfect cup of cool and chill Taiwanese bubble tea. Peony Garden is a modern “cha chaan teng-style” restaurant with a menu inspired by Chinese and Western cuisines, featuring classic Hong Kong style dishes. Ding’s Kitchen will be opened shortly by celebrity chef Lee Ka Ting and Ki, serving roast goose and delicious soup. Together with Moon Lok Chinese Restaurant, Go Cakes, LockCha Tea Shop and the souvenir shop Passage, audience and visitors are going to be spoilt for choice in the Xiqu Centre.

Freespace and Edward Lam Dance Theatre collaborate to bring a series of programmes in the name of “What is Art/School” from August to October. It is built around a series of performances, film screenings and discussions questioning the values we learn in classrooms versus lessons learned in the school of life. This includes 10 performances of Edward Lam’s acclaimed “Art School Musical” completely restaged for our theatre at Freespace. “Art School Musical” is a seminal piece on youth, gender and social identity by Edward Lam, an artistic director and theatre director in Hong Kong. Freespace also presents a film series including 11 titles and brings back our annual scenography programme, “What is Stage”. In this third edition, West Kowloon invited German artist, designer, director and teacher Anna Viebrock to lead some Freespace programmes and share her experiences. The programme opened in July with a public seminar, followed by a series of screenings and discussion sessions in which Edward Lam introduced 12 of Viebrock’s works. In September, Anna Viebrock will lead a five-day artist workshop on the aesthetics and philosophy of art making, stage design, costume design, directing and teaching. The programme will conclude with a second public seminar and sharing with Anna Viebrock and Edward Lam.

Following the media briefing on 26 July regarding the flooding incident that occurred at the construction site of L1 Works Contract for the Lyric Theatre Complex and the Extended Basement, Mr Pescod updated that the Authority had compiled a report for the Board and will also be responding to enquiries received from members of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Development and Panel on Home Affairs Joint Sub-Committee to monitor the implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District project. Safety is our top priority in all our projects, and the WKCDA assures that there were no injuries as a result of the incident and no impact at all on neighbouring areas. The Authority will be closely monitoring the situation and working closely with the appointed works contractor and related statutory authorities.

Since the incident, a number of measures have been conducted. All water that flowed into the excavated site has been filtered and pumped out and the sinkhole has been filled. Grouting is ongoing around the incident area and the soil berm at the base of the excavation has been strengthened. The full investigation of the incident is still ongoing. Nevertheless, the Authority is confident that the delivery timeline of the overall project will be unaffected as a result of this incident. Mr Pescod also reported that the Authority must remain cautious that there is always a risk of unforeseeable challenge on the site. The reality is that we have an enormous excavated hole on a reclaimed site adjacent to the harbour. The Authority’s works contractors must remain vigilant to ensure that, as in this incident, any issues are identified quickly and dealt with promptly.

Other projects continued to make progress. The construction of M+ project will hit its peak this month as it enters its final stage. Nevertheless, the Authority still have a number of intense months ahead with the fit-out and statutory inspections.

For the Zone 2 Integrated Basement for the West Kowloon Cultural District and the Artist Square Bridge, WKCDA is trying to find ways of keeping both projects moving forward, whilst the Authority awaits the outcome of the funding approval which is with the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee.

Mr Pescod concluded his report by a couple of good news. Of Pastures Wild and Wide, a book the Authority produced in collaboration with The House of Hong Kong Literature won Distinguished Publishing Award (Literature and Fiction) at Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Awards 2019. The judging panel credited the book for its high calibre planning, design and marketing. Featuring works by 24 major Hong Kong writers inspired by the plants cultivated at West Kowloon, the book is available in major bookstores around town while stock lasts.

The Xiqu Centre has been honoured as a finalist for the Architecture+ Metal category of the Architizer A+Awards 2019. The Architizer A+Awards is the world’s largest awards programme celebrating the year’s best architecture and building-projects. The Architecture +Metal category celebrates projects that display a substantive and innovative use of metal.

Freespace Happening, which took place between September 2018 to March 2019, showcased outdoor performances in the Art Park. As reported in Mr Pescod’s pervious report, the programmes covering December 2018 to February 2019 were granted the "Green Outdoor Event" title. The programme in March 2019 was recognised as "Green Outdoor Event" by the Environmental Campaign Committee again to appreciate its green efforts during the event, for the fourth month in a row.

Remarks

About the West Kowloon Cultural District

The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.