Found Space in the M+ building. Photo: Dan Leung. M+, Hong Kong
This is the lowest part of M+, B2. Sometimes, this level is used as part of a ticketed exhibition—if that’s the case today, you can still get a good view of the space by looking down from the Ground Floor or B1. If you’re down here though, do take a quiet moment to really ground yourself in this part of the museum.
With its wide, open layout, industrial feel, and muted colour scheme, it’s probably unlike any other gallery space you’re likely to find yourself in. It’s known as the Found Space, and in many ways, this is the foundational core of M+. Not just from an architectural perspective, but in the sense of an ethos too—this is a new kind of art space, growing directly out of Hong Kong. Look up, and you can see the other museum levels opening up above you.
So, what makes it a Found Space? When they first thought about the building that would become M+, the architects were keen to design something that was tied specifically to its unique location. The entire West Kowloon Cultural District is built on reclaimed land though, meaning that there were no previous buildings or history for them to respond to—it was a completely blank canvas.
But the team soon realised that there was something underneath the site—the Airport Express and Tung Chung Line railway tunnels, which cut across it diagonally. While this had initially been presented as a considerable design challenge, the architects quickly realised that they had found their unique foundational feature. Working like archaeologists, they decided to excavate the tunnels, exposing them, and then cover them with a concrete shelf, leaving the rest of this level as a space that had pretty much presented itself during the planning stages: a found space, that was always here.
The elegant oak floor down here in the Found Space is unique to the museum, and was created using a traditional parquetry technique known as ‘end-grain’. In contrast to this, there’s a lot of concrete down here—you can hear more about its distinctive wood-grained texture by playing the ‘In Focus’ stop from your menu. This was a conscious decision: the design brief was very specific that there should be a raw, post-industrial feel to the museum, perhaps as a nod to the sheer scale of late 20th and 21st century creative production and exhibition. Coupled with the unique layout of the Found Space, this presents a real opportunity for creators and curators alike to play with proportions in creating some extraordinary site-specific works and exhibitions.