An ambitious plan to create one of the largest cultural centers in the world has failed for financial reasons. It was to be funded by private developers, who in return were given the right to complement it with office buildings, hotels and residential buildings.
The total cost of the project is $ 25 billion. Along with the creation of a cultural center of international importance, its implementation would reintroduce 42 hectares of vacant lots in the heart of Hong Kong harbor, on the Kowloon Peninsula.
The idea of founding such an ensemble belongs to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. According to the results of sociological surveys of tourists in the mid-1990s, it was found that most of them find that there are too few cultural institutions on the island. Such construction was supposed to attract both tourists and foreign investors to Hong Kong.
In 1998, the concept of the West Kowloon Cultural Region was presented, and in 2001-2002 an international competition was held to draft a master plan for the site.
Norman Foster won in it: he proposed to cover more than half (55%) of the area with a huge tent, which was supposed to become the same symbol of Hong Kong as the building of the Utzon Opera House became for Sydney. This "canopy" would become the largest roof in the world (25 hectares).
A park is planned under it, occupying about 70% of the total area (and Hong Kong suffers from a lack of greenery), three theaters for 2000, 800 and 400 spectators, a concert hall for 10,000 seats, a complex of four museums (and the Paris Center Pompidou was going to open branches there., The Solomon Guggenheim Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art in New York), an exhibition center with an area of 10,000 square meters. m and a water arena.
Initially, it was planned to start construction in 2007 and finish in 2011. But more than a year and a half ago, various claims arose against the project. Local artists expressed dissatisfaction with the dominance of Western cultural institutions in the project, and many politicians drew public attention to the too “generous” conditions for developers. The original developer who won the tender had to build all the museums and theaters and cover the costs of their maintenance for 30 years. For this, he could build and sell office and residential buildings in the surrounding area.
Now he could count on only half of the commercial development (for the rest an additional tender is being held), and on top of that, he had to establish a special trust fund in the amount of $ 3.87 billion for the maintenance of the ensemble's non-profit institutions for the same thirty-year period.
As a result, within three weeks after the announcement of the new rules, all developers who were going to take part in the tender withdrew their applications. Hong Kong government officials said they would organize a new committee and create a new plan for the development of the "cultural district" by September 2006. But it is already clear that the most expensive part of Foster's project - the giant tent - will not be built anyway.
Experts, however, are skeptical about the prospects for the implementation of this plan in general in connection with the government's concessions to populist politicians, that is, setting an exorbitantly high price for developers.