by STIRworldDec 30, 2019
Astutely weaving tradition into a contemporary setting, Xiqu Centre is the latest prestigious landmark in Hong Kong. The centre aims at promoting Xiqu – the primary genre of indigenous Chinese theatre – and the production, education and research of this traditional art form.
Designed by award-winning Canadian studio Revery Architecture in collaboration with Ronald Lu & Partners Ltd, the performing arts venue opened earlier this year, receiving eye balls for its dramatic curvilinear façade.
Conceptualised as a cultural sanctuary, the Xiqu Centre merges art, theatre and the region’s dynamic public realm, in its seven-storey venue. Chronicling the Chinese Moon Gate motif in its striking design, the space is now an abode for traditional Chinese opera, standing as a stunning gateway to the city’s new precinct for culture and arts – the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD).
At dusk, the glowing envelope is redolent of lanterns glinting behind a beaded stage curtain, akin to the type used in traditional theatre. The metal panels woven into the façade are gently pulled back at the four corners of Xiqu Centre, and some pulled open at various locations, mimicking the movement of swaying curtains, and arresting the attention of onlookers. These intriguing openings across the elevations appear as light boxes, reminiscent of abstract art works from Xiqu costumes, radiating light outside and providing a glimpse of the inside as well.
Impersonating the movement found in the Xiqu art form as well as qi (flow of energy), the design takes on a curvilinear, flowy form. Qi is expressed abundantly throughout the compound by the curved paths and arched entrances specifically designed around the multi-level circular atrium.
The fabrication of the elevations was planned to create an effect of a curtain, which resulted in the employment of a modular system of scaled fins, CNC (computer numerical control)-cut from untreated marine-grade aluminium pipe. These are set in an alternate patterned array along the building’s façade, and the aluminium will weather over time to develop a natural patina, creating a rustic aesthetic.
The visitors at the Xiqu Centre’s interior courtyard space can enjoy exhibitions, demonstrations, stalls and workshops, which render and promote Xiqu’s rich heritage and cultural traditions. The Centre’s astounding 1,073-seat Grand Theatre is suspended at the top of the building (27m off the ground), which resulted in smooth internal configuration of the plaza and atrium space. This also facilitated in secluding the auditorium from added ambient noise from its surrounding urban setting – an inventive decision, which enabled safe and timely construction within and below the space at the same time.
The elevated theatre is flanked by two alfresco sky gardens, with panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the city beyond. The suspended theatre also generates space underneath for a Tea House theatre of 200 seats, rehearsal studios, education and administrative spaces, lecture rooms, and retail areas overlooking the naturally-ventilated central, inner courtyard.
This sparkling cultural centre is freely accessible to public, fostering organic interaction inside and outside the complex. The futuristic design of the Xiqu Centre meshes with traditional Chinese art, lending to the vibrant spirit of Hong Kong.
Name of the project: Xiqu Centre
Location: Hong Kong, China
Year of completion: 2019
Architect: Revery Architecture
Programme: Performance Venue