This project attempts to preserve the fading maritime culture not only for the development and enhancement of self-identity, but to explore in advance the new role a museum should play in our society. Museums can no longer exist in their present form as focal artifacts or monuments juxtaposed against the urban fabric; they must now begin to blur within our society. Museums can neither continue to label themselves as the vehicle of an elitist high culture nor restricted to any particular class or stratum. The indefinable trend of mass culture has already expressed itself many art forms in Hong Kong. To explore this theme, the metamorphosis of the museum is taken as inevitable. The conventional museum will peel away from its traditional skin to provide art spaces that are more open, transparent, accessible and interactive.
The museum form is designed to provide an interesting Chinese junk skeleton as a framework, while its different programs and exhibits are arranged into linear strips of open space underneath. The linear arrangement encourages dynamic interaction with different programs. It provokes thought and contemplation. This arrangement can be traced back to traditional Chinese maritime culture, where boats were secured together to form an open place for social events and interaction.
Moreover, the museum encourages continuous interaction between interior and exterior. Glass façades, elevated platforms and ramps generate unlimited perspectives between the harbour and the museum, the traditional junks within and the lively cruise vessels outside: the present and the past.
“Typical” Hong Kong scenery – understood from a tourist’s postcard – consists of Victoria Harbor in the foreground, Central district in the middle, and mountains to the rear. When the student brought this thesis topic to me, it was motivated by a rather programmatic need: Hong Kong needs a maritime museum to sustain its tourist industry. However the site is sensitive, located amidst world-famous scenery. Integration of the surrounding elements was the first idea. Opening up the building to the surroundings was the final result. The concept shifted when the plan and structure developed from a traditional junk skeleton turned upside down. When the hull’s sides were opened up, what was left were open decks and structural bays, different in size but similar and repetitive in shape. When the building is opened up, it becomes a place for multi-level indoor piers, decks and promenades, which provide spectacular views of the harbor. It will equally attract the public into the museum’s own activity. De-constructing a building composition is multiply suggestive to anyone who sees it, and from any angle.
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