The Xiqu Centre, Hong Kong’s first performing arts venue dedicated to promoting the rich heritage of xiqu, celebrated its grand opening this month. Located in the new West Kowloon Cultural District, the centre is conceived as a cultural sanctuary, blending theatre, art and public space for celebration and contemplation, Xiqu Centre is a joint venture between Vancouver-based Revery Architecture Inc. (formerly Bing Thom Architects) and Ronald Lu & Partners (Hong Kong) Ltd.
The Xiqu Centre embraces the cultural richness of East and West by creating a contemporary expression that allows this most ancient art form of Chinese cultural heritage to continue its trajectory as it evolves with contemporary technology.
With its brilliant façade and reinterpretation of the customary Chinese Moon Gate motif, Xiqu Centre creates a captivating landmark entrance as the gateway to WKCD, the city’s new precinct for arts and culture. This iconic performing arts venue is dedicated to promoting the rich cultural heritage of Xiqu—the primary genre of indigenous Chinese theatre—and is to be featured on the new HK $100 banknote, emphasizing its social and cultural significance to the ‘Hong Kong Spirit’.
Xiqu Centre houses a breathtaking 1,000-seat Grand Theatre uniquely situated at the top of the building and flanked by two outdoor sky gardens offering outstanding vistas of Victoria Harbour and the city beyond. The innovative design decision to suspend the main theatre—the heart of Xiqu Centre—90 feet (27 metres) above the ground strategically isolates the auditorium from the vibration and high ambient noise levels of the building’s surrounding urban context and extensive city infrastructure. Elevating the theatre also creates space for the multi-level atrium and naturally ventilated plaza comprising rehearsal spaces, a Tea House Theatre of 200 seats for more intimate performances, as well as education and administrative spaces, lecture rooms and retail areas overlooking the central inner courtyard.
“Qi” or flow is expressed throughout the complex with curvilinear paths and forms designed around a vast circular atrium. Xiqu’s dramatic glowing curvilinear façade, which reimagines theatre drapes and the swaying folds of the performers’ magnificent costumes, comprises a modular system of scaled fins CNC-cut from untreated marine-grade aluminum pipe, selected for both its alluring aesthetic and enhanced performance. Arrayed in alternating patterns along the building, these curved fins radiate a captivating glow reminiscent of a lantern shimmering behind a beaded stage curtain, just as it might have looked in days gone by.
The façade’s woven metal panels are gently pulled back at all four corner entrances to the building, radiating light to the exterior while revealing the vibrant flow of visitors in and out of the interior courtyard. Opening up into a mesmerizing circular atrium, this spectacular naturally-ventilated courtyard plaza invites the public to enjoy the exhibitions, browse shops, listen to music or watch Xiqu demonstrations, making this most traditional Chinese art form accessible to new audiences and future generations.
Photographer Ema Peter courtesy of Revery Architecture