Located on the eastern edge of the West Kowloon Cultural District, at the junction of Canton Road and Austin Road, the Xiqu Centre is directly accessible from the Hong Kong West Kowloon Station (Express Rail Link) and Austin MTR station, and easy to reach by public transport from all parts of Hong Kong. The building’s striking design, created by Revery Architecture (formerly Bing Thom Architects) and Ronald Lu & Partners, was inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns and blends traditional and contemporary elements to reflect the evolving nature of the art form. Stepping through the main entrance, shaped to resemble parted stage curtains, visitors are led directly into a lively atrium with a raised podium and space for presenting the rich and ancient culture of Chinese traditional theatre.
The building has a total area of 28,164 sq m and houses a Grand Theatre, accommodating 1,073 seats, a Tea House Theatre, with a capacity of up to 200 seats, eight professional studios and a seminar hall, all specially designed for different types of xiqu-related functions and activities. The design details of each of the facilities have also been created in response to the practical requirements and aesthetic features of the art form. A unique feature of the venue is the location of the Grand Theatre at the top of the building, which allows for a large open atrium below with space for exhibitions, stalls, and xiqu demonstrations and workshops.
The Xiqu Centre is also designed to meet recognised sustainability standards and to reduce energy consumption in line with the guidance provided by BEAM Plus Gold Rating, Hong Kong’s internationally recognised rating tool for green buildings.
Revery Architecture (formerly Bing Thom Architects) and Ronald Lu & Partners
There are very few contemporary examples of purpose-built venue for xiqu anywhere in the world. As such, the design requires in-depth study of the art form and its practices. This is compounded with the added challenge of having to respond to an evolving artform that is both historic and contemporary in equal measure.
In order to find the ideal design and consultancy team for the Xiqu Centre, we launched a ten-month long competition in March 2012. Over fifty practices from around the world expressed interest. In December 2012, a joint venture by leading Canadian architecture Revery Architecture (formerly Bing Thom Architects) and Hong Kong award-winning architect Ronald Lu & Partners was selected from a shortlist of five consortiums to design this landmark venue.
Revery Architecture (formerly Bing Thom Architects) and Ronald Lu & Partners’ design answered what we were looking for – the essence of xiqu embodied in a building. It successfully blends theatre, arts education and public space together and the design reflects four core design principles integral to the art form and Chinese culture:
- The concept of ‘flow’ or ‘qi’ is interpreted in the fluid movements in the building and the use of curved planes, arched openings and circular paths.
- The concept of nature is expressed by bringing the landscape into different levels of the building to create in-between spaces;
- The concept of gateway and pavilion is represented in the openness and door-less nature of the design, welcoming different visitors into the building from all four of its corners;
- The concept of courtyard is presented as a generous covered public space on ground level, which serves as a perfect urban stage for events and celebrations.