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Hong Kong Palace Museum

Tradition Generates Innovation

Rocco Design Architects Associates

Hong Kong Palace Museum
By Diana Carta -
Dorma Hüppe has participated in the project

With the Hong Kong Palace Museum, Rocco Design Architects have provided a new civic hub that reflects traditional Chinese architecture and spatial concepts in the modern cultural context that is Hong Kong.

This center displaying Chinese art and antiquities houses numerous works from Beijing’s Palace Museum in the Forbidden City along with other artifacts belonging to leading international museums, among them the Louvre in Paris. For Rocco Yim, founder of the architecture studio, it was essential that the museum’s design clearly reflected the cultural world and spatial traditions that gave rise to the ancient Chinese treasures within. However, referencing Beijing’s Palace Museum had to go beyond simply re-proposing tangible recognizable physical forms and reach into abstract representations of elements of Chinese culture. Accordingly, just as Beijing’s Forbidden City when first built was at the cutting edge of cultural developments of the day, so too the same monumental proportions, forms, color scheme and details that make up the Hong Kong Palace Museum stand at the forefront of modern Chinese culture, which in turn stands on the shoulders of its ancient heritage.

The seemingly endless horizontal sequence of spaces in Beijing’s Palace Museum is now rendered vertically with the new museum’s three large stacked atria. And just as the horizontal sequence of environments in Beijing’s Palace Museum gives visitors the sense of exploring an unknown space of unknown overall size, so too the three atria in the Hong Kong Palace Museum create the same sense of discovery as the ascending distribution circuit leads visitors inexorably up through the building towards the natural light. Punctuated by open areas and observation points overlooking the city, this “circulation spine” through the five levels of galleries is further marked out by an undulating bronze ceiling – a reference to the gold...

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