Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects have been awarded the commission to design the Xiqu Center, a performing arts center dedicated to traditional Chinese opera, in Hong Kong. The center will be the first building in the new West Kowloon Cultural District, which will ultimately include a total of 17 arts venues, and will act as a gateway to the district.
Bing Thom bested Foster + Partners, Diamond Schmitt Architects, and Safdie Architects with a design that calls for three theaters suspended by a superstructure over a public plaza. The brief called for 200,000 square feet of retail space to subsidize the cultural facilities, two thirds of which Thom placed below grade. In Thom's scheme, visitors arriving by subway will enter through the retail arcade before ascending to the plaza, which will be ringed by the remaining retail. "Traditional Chinese operas were often staged in the town marketplace," Thom told AN. "So we wanted to create a building that was a contemporary take on a venue for an ancient art form."
The theater spaces are on three levels, with the smallest, a cabaret/tea room venue seating 280, sharing the lowest level with other teahouses. The second level will house a 400-seat auditorium and a school and the third level will house the largest hall of 1,100 seats. The building will be clad in a veil like "curtain" of metal tubes, which will allow various levels of light to shine through at night as well as serve as a projection surface. Gardens will be incorporated into the various levels of the building.
The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority also announced the shortlist to design M+, a major new museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design: Herzog + de Meuron + TTP Farrells; SANAA; Renzo Piano Building Workshop; Shigeru Ban Architects + Thomas Chow Architects; Snøhetta; Toyo Ito & Associates + Benoy Limited.