Across its diverse neighborhoods, Hong Kong’s West Kowloon transcends cultural, gastronomic, architectural and creative boundaries.
Spanning 40 hectares of reclaimed land, the futuristic shimmer of the hyper-connected harbor front is both boldly international but also distinctly Asian; West Kowloon’s cultural district offers a live exchange between human beings and artistic spectacle. In Yau Ma Tei and Jordan, south of the Kowloon Peninsula, old and new Hong Kong – markets, temples, street food, cafes, independent cinemas and an open-air opera – juxtapose in thrilling proximity and synergistic.
Yau Ma Tei and Jordan
Stretching from northern Jordan to Yau Ma Tei, the Temple Street Night Market is a street of stalls selling Chinese bags and purses, sets of chopsticks and wall hangings. Sit outside on a plastic stool and eat fresh crab at one of the ‘dai pai dongs’ (outdoor food stalls) and drink in the buzzing atmosphere of Hong Kong.
Paul Tse and Evelyn Ting, co-founders of local architecture and design studio New Office Works (and the masterminds behind the “Growing Up” pavilion in West Kowloon’s cultural district, see below), suggest starting a adventure into this shimmering thrill space with a visit to the architecturally intriguing Yau Ma Tei Former Police Station. “It’s at a corner, with the entrance facing the corner and archways on both sides. It has a very different spatial relationship to the street compared to the juxtaposition of buildings on other streets where many older apartment buildings have the arcade gallery style,” says Ting.
Once a wharf for the fishing boats of the Tanka people, Yau Ma Tei’s pushed back and reclaimed coastline is now home to some of Hong Kong’s oldest restaurants, historic temples and traditional crafts, creating an atmospheric counterpoint to the cultural district’s modernity. neighbor of West Kowloon. .
Once used by the Tanka people to worship the sea goddess to ensure a safe and prosperous fishing trip, Tin Hau Temple is one of the city’s oldest declared monuments and one of its largest. temple complexes. While in the area, stop for a traditional Hong Kong-style brunch at Mido Café, which retains much of its 1950s decor.
A working-class neighborhood in West Kowloon, Jordan is an authentic glimpse into daily life for Hong Kong residents, rich in family restaurants, jade and antique shops, artisans and heritage sites. Our recommendations include wonton noodle soup with shrimp and pork at legendary local restaurant Mak Man Kee Noodles, exquisite hand-carved Mahjong tiles at Biu Kee Mahjong, beautiful embroidered shoes at Sindart, and traditional sewing at Shanghai Baoxing Qipao. .
Continue to the West Kowloon Cultural Quarter, touted as the largest cultural initiative of its kind.
West Kowloon Cultural District
Both a world-class host and nurturer of local talent, West Kowloon Cultural District’s arts education facilities stimulate local artists and performers to explore and develop, ensuring lasting benefits for the people of Hong Kong.
The scene of an ever-changing series of exhibitions, installations, gallery openings, fairs and events, the creative energy of the neighborhood is evident the moment you step outside Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. Designed by Andrew Bromberg of Aedas Architects, the building’s distinctive arched roof topped with a walkway is just a landmark in a rapidly changing local skyline.
Additions in recent years include the ‘Grandir’ wooden pavilion; and the spectacular Xiqu Center performing arts building, with 13,000 interwoven metal fins, by Revery Architecture and Ronald Lu & Partners. The vast and highly anticipated M+ Museum of Visual Culture Herzog & de Meuron is now open.
Structures created to inspire, delight, entertain, educate and encourage artistic talent are interspersed with a familiar Hong Kong streetscape of colonnades, lanes, alleys, outdoor terraces and tree-lined promenades that connect the cultural structures at the waterfront, which offers views stretching to Hong Kong Island. From Foster + Partners’ Art Park, a two-kilometer-long unbroken harbor offers residents and visitors alike the opportunity to admire the city’s iconic neon skyline.
Xiqu Center and Chinese Opera
Alongside its regular schedule of Cantonese opera productions, concerts, screenings, theater experiences and hands-on workshops, the Xiqu Center hosts an annual Black Box Chinese Opera Festival, where original productions are reimagined and reconsidered to offer new insights into the history, evolution and potential future of Chinese opera.
Bringing together emerging artists from across the region, the festival inspires and facilitates exchange between practitioners as part of the Contemporary Network of Experimental Chinese Opera Festivals.
Make the arts accessible
Free and accessible to all, West Kowloon’s Art Park invites visitors to discover the seafront promenade and its large green spaces. A bike-sharing program, SmartBike, provides easy access to harbor restaurants. Located in Art Park and incorporating numerous soundproof studios, a black box theater and a live music bar, it is the minimalist, concrete structure of Freespace, the West Kowloon Cultural District’s center for modern performing arts and live performances of contemporary dance and jazz.
A hybrid between a shopping mall and an art museum, K11 Art Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui is a unique platform showcasing pioneering artworks created by Hong Kong and international artists. Founded by Adrian Cheng in 2008, the art mall collaborates with the non-profit K11 Art Foundation to bring innovative projects and original exhibitions to a wide audience.
Hong Kong Palace Museum
This summer, the creative vision of the West Kowloon Cultural District will expand further. The Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) will open soon, developed with the concept of “harmony” in mind and occupying a site that offers panoramic views of Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island. . With a design inspired by the layout of the Forbidden City in Beijing, the museum will offer a contemporary interpretation of traditional Chinese aesthetics.
Dr. Louis Ng, director of the HKPM, says the museum will adopt new curatorial approaches to provide a Hong Kong perspective and a global view, showcasing the finest objects from its own collection and other leading cultural institutions across the world. He says, “In terms of vision and positioning, the HKPM is about the idea of a ‘connected museum’, to connect the past to the present, increase hyperconnectivity, strengthen ties with museums and the public in China. mainland and connect Chinese culture. with the rest of the world.’
Suggested Itineraries in West Kowloon
Below are four possible routes to explore the neighborhood. Find full itineraries on the Hong Kong Tourism Board website.
Course 1: Architecture
This tour focuses on the modern and traditional architecture of the neighborhood. The architecture of West Kowloon tells how the area has transformed over time from a humble fishing community into a center of Hong Kong arts and culture. There are ten stops along this route, including Yau Ma Tei Theater; Tin Hau Temple; Hong Kong West Kowloon Station; and the Xiqu Center.
Route 2: Handicrafts
For travelers who want to learn about the history of the neighborhood through local artisans and artists, this tour explores the connection between traditional craftsmanship and community. Highlights include Biu Kee Mahjong, Sindart Embroidered Slippers and Jade Market.
Route 3: Art in panorama
M+, a brand new museum of visual culture, is the crown jewel of the West Kowloon Cultural District. This tour reveals how the area is now a world-class arts hub, and includes stunning views of Ozone at The Ritz-Carlton (Hong Kong’s tallest bar); M+; Sky100; and the Art Park Walk.
Route 4: Urban art
Street art has transformed many parts of Hong Kong into public galleries and West Kowloon is no different. This tour includes some of the city’s most recognizable pieces, little-known murals, unique installations and boutique galleries. Among the stops, Mido Café and the Précédée gallery.