Hong Kong, China
Client West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Type Cultural, Performing Arts
Size 305,000 sq.ft.
Status Completed 2018, awarded through design competition
Joint Venture Ronald Lu & Partners Ltd.
Photography Ema Peter
Conceived as a cultural sanctuary blending theatre, art, education, and a dynamic public realm, Xiqu Centre is a state-of-the-art performance venue dedicated to promoting the rich heritage of Xiqu, the primary genre of indigenous Chinese musical theatre, and to the production, education and research of this ancient art form. Reimagining beaded curtains and the gentle movements of the performers’ magnificent costumes, Xiqu Centre’s curvilinear façade evokes the drama unfolding within, and marks the gateway to the West Kowloon Cultural District, the city’s new quarter for arts and culture.
The 7-storey Xiqu Centre houses a 1,075-seat Main Theatre, an intimate 200-seat Tea House Theatre, as well as two floors of retail and dining space with balconies overlooking the central inner courtyard. The main theatre is flanked by two outdoor sky gardens offering outstanding vistas of Victoria Harbour and the city beyond. The building offers a series of educational spaces, rehearsal halls, practice rooms, and recording studios supported by an integrated back of house wing. These amenities nurture new generations of local artists and the continued evolution of Xiqu.
The innovative suspension of the main auditorium 27-metres off the ground isolates this state-of-the-art theatre from the vibration and high ambient noise levels of the surrounding urban infrastructure and creates a vast, column-free and naturally ventilated interior plaza that is open to the public 24 hours a day. While not a part of the original project brief, this multiform space—equipped with motorized rigging and plug-and-play mobile performance elements—provides invaluable engagement with the public through exhibitions, events, and art demonstrations. Incorporating trees, optimal ventilation, and diffused natural light, the plaza offers respite from Hong Kong’s hot and humid climate through passive means, and a comfortable, inclusive ‘urban living room’ where the community can connect.
Xiqu Centre achieved BEAM Plus Gold, the highest rating for Hong Kong’s leading independent assessment of building sustainability performance, and has been recognized as a national icon and landmark for Hong Kong. It was commemorated on the 100 HKD currency bill in 2018, on the $10 and $20 Hong Kong Post stamps in 2019, was named one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places by TIME Magazine (2019), and continues to draw significant tourism to the district.
This world-class venue features a dramatic glowing façade of woven metal panels, reminiscent of a lantern shimmering behind a beaded stage curtain. Composed of a modular system of scaled fins CNC-cut from untreated marine-grade aluminum pipe, selected for its alluring aesthetic and enhanced performance, the façade panels are gently pulled back like curtains at all four entrances to the building, radiating light to the exterior while revealing the vibrant flow of visitors in and out of the interior courtyard.