These fundamental principals are given an architectural expression in the present design by elevating a portion of the museum structure above ground level. In so doing, the lower levels of the museum complex are opened up to reinforce the much-desired visual and physical connection between the city and the proposed harbour front. A service podium is created on the ground level that accommodates museum support functions and that also provides space for exhibitions and public programmes. The top of this podium connects to the network of sky bridges in Admiralty hub. Additional open space is created on the top of the podium which is developed as a series of outdoor sculptural terraces.

Visitors may enter the museum complex from Admiralty through the outdoor sculptural terraces on the podium level, or from the harbour side at ground level through a monumental entry plaza sheltered by the elevated structure above. Both entries lead to a glass-enclosed central atrium that serves as an orientation point for the museum complex and that accommodates a variety of visitor services.

Three distinct types of exhibition space are organized on multiple levels around the central atrium, including multi-purpose exhibition halls, special exhibition pavilions, and sky galleries.

Three multi-purpose exhibition halls are accessible directly from the central atrium floor. These multi-purpose exhibition halls are designed to simultaneously host a series of traveling exhibitions and can be serviced easily from either the centralized loading area within the service podium or directly from street level, allowing the multi-purpose exhibition halls to easily accommodate the display of large-scale works of art.

Five special exhibition pavilions are located on the service podium level and are accessible either from the central atrium by highly-sculptural stairs and elevators, or independently from the outdoor landscaped terraces. The pavilions are intended to accommodate the display of a number of special collections or permanent installations. The generous volume of each pavilion allows the possibility to create additional floor levels within the pavilions if desired. Their flexible organization of the pavilions allows them to be constructed either simultaneously or individually and in multiple phases. Each of the special exhibition pavilions maintains a unique and independent architectural identity, while at the same time complimenting the overall composition of the museum complex.

A series of sky galleries are located prominently along the harbour front to take advantage of the magnificent view of the harbour offered by the Tamar site and are accessible by a system of glass-enclosed escalators and stairs. The galleries are specifically designed to encourage thematic exhibitions, especially those exploring the interrelationship between traditional and modern art and between Western and Chinese art, as well as the exhibition of interdisciplinary art such as film, video and design. The galleries all feature the generous use of natural light and all open to glass-enclosed sculptural terraces. It is envisioned that the combination of the arts experience and the spectacular view of the Hong Kong harbour front will make visiting the sky galleries a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

In addition to exhibition spaces, the museum complex also includes an Arts Educational Centre that is accessible from the central atrium or from a separate entrance at the southwest corner of the museum complex. At the northeast corner of the museum complex is the entry to the black box theater. The location of the black box theatre serves as a potential link to existing and possibly new performing arts facilities that are located to the east of the Tamar site. This black box theatre can be programmed independently or as a compliment to the multi-purpose exhibition spaces located on the ground floor of the museum complex. A museum shop and supporting dining facilities animate the outdoor spaces and landscape terraces of the museum complex.

To reinforce the idea of openness and transparency, the architectural expression of the museum complex is articulated with a sculptural glass curtain wall supported by a lightweight steel skeleton and detailed with a shading pattern to optimize energy efficiency. The special exhibition pavilions are articulated with a series of different materials, including stone and titanium. The service podium is clad in white marble, and serves to ground the more sculptural forms of the elevated structure and the special exhibition pavilions and to link those forms to the rational geometry of the surrounding city, unifying the different elements of the museum complex into a single figural whole.

Frank Gehry
HK Museum Complex
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