West Kowloon Cultural District

Design contest streamlined for fairness

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 11:46am

The design competition for the first West Kowloon arts hub venue will adopt a 'cautious' two-stage process for declarations of interest to ensure a fair contest for the building to showcase Chinese opera.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority yesterday announced the details of the design competition for the Xiqu Centre, the first of 17 arts venues. It will be built at the corner of Canton Road and Austin Road West, where the authority staged its first cultural programme, Cantonese Opera Bamboo Theatre, during the Lunar New Year.

The authority said it streamlined the competition so the Xiqu Centre could open before the end of 2015. It will feature a 1,100-seat main theatre, a smaller one of 400 seats, and a teahouse for 200 customers, plus training and educational facilities.

It did not say whether its 'cautious' procedure for declarations of interest was influenced by recent conflict-of-interest allegations against chief executive hopeful Leung Chun-ying over his role in an arts hub design competition more than 10 years ago.

Design teams must first detail their credentials. The assessment will attach great weight to their creative design, credentials and track record, as well as the qualifications of team members.

Each team must declare their actual, potential and perceived conflicts of interest when submitting their application during the pre-competition period. Teams do not submit designs at this stage.

Four to six teams will be shortlisted to enter the actual design contest, which will include schematic plans and models. At this stage, the shortlisted teams will make further declarations of interest. Each shortlisted team will be paid a nominal HK$1 million for their submissions.

A similar procedure will apply to members of the yet-unnamed jury. The number of jury members has yet to be finalised, but two stand-by jurors will be appointed, so they can replace anyone who is deemed unsuitable to cast a vote.

The arts hub's executive director for project delivery, Dr Chan Man-wai, insisted the winning team would be chosen not just on the strength of creative ideas; it must be willing to work with all parties - especially Cantonese opera professionals - to create a venue to meet users' needs.

'Design is an interactive process. The shortlisted teams will have to take part in workshops with industry professionals,' Chan said. It had not been decided how and when to engage the public in the competition.

Lee Shing-see, representative of the development committee, will chair a steering committee for the competition. Members include Liza Wang Ming-chun, opera performer and chairwoman of the Chinese Artists Association, and Yip Wing-sie, music director of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Bernard Lim Wan-fung, architect and president of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design, is the competition's independent adviser.