Canadian studio Revery Architecture has recently completed an opera house in Hong Kong‘s West Kowloon Cultural District, designed with local firm Ronald Lu & Partners. With its dramatic curvilinear façade and reinterpretation of the customary Chinese Moon Gate motif, Xiqu Centre creates a stunning landmark entrance as the gateway to the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), the city’s new precinct for arts and culture.
Conceived as a cultural sanctuary; blending theatre, art, and a dynamic public realm, this iconic 7-storey performance venue is dedicated to promoting the rich heritage of Xiqu—Chinese opera, the primary genre of indigenous Chinese theatre—and to the production, education and research of this unique and traditional art form.
Xiqu Centre’s glowing façade—reminiscent of a lantern shimmering behind a beaded stage curtain—comprises a modular system of scaled fins CNC-cut from untreated marine-grade aluminum pipe and arrayed in alternating patterns along the building. The façade’s woven metal panels are gently pulled back like curtains at all four corners of the building, radiating light to the exterior and enticing a vibrant free-flow of visitors in and out of the interior courtyard to enjoy exhibitions, stalls, demonstrations and workshops dedicated to promoting Xiqu’s rich heritage.
“Qi” (meaning flow) is expressed throughout the complex with curvilinear paths and forms and arched entrances designed around a mesmerizing, multi-level circular atrium. The innovative design decision to suspend Xiqu Centre’s breathtaking 1,073-seat Grand Theatre at the top of the building 90 feet (27 metres) off the ground, facilitates internal configuration of the atrium and public plaza while strategically isolating the auditorium from vibration and the high ambient noise levels of its surrounding urban infrastructure. This inventive design move was hugely beneficial in enabling construction to safely occur within and below the theatre simultaneously, resulting in a reduced construction timeline.
Flanked by two outdoor sky gardens offering visitors panoramic views of Victoria Harbour, the elevated theatre creates space beneath for a 200-seat Tea House theatre, rehearsal studios, education and administrative spaces, lecture rooms and retail areas overlooking the naturally-ventilated inner courtyard. Xiqu Centre opened in January 2019 and is a world-class performance venue that respectfully embraces the cultural richness of Chinese opera within a magnificent contemporary expression, making it accessible to new audiences and future generations as it continues to thrive and evolve with modern technology.