West Kowloon Cultural District

Cost of Chinese opera venue for West Kowloon doubles

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 5:21pm

A team of Hong Kong architects has won the design competition of the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera, the first arts venue planned for the West Kowloon arts hub, officials said on Monday.

The lantern-shaped design is expected to cost HK$2.7 billion – double the HK$1.3 billion originally estimated in 2006.

It was designed by two leading architectural firms, Bing Thom of Vancouver and Hong Kong’s Ronald Lu.

Chief architect Bing Thom, a Hong Kong-born designer who emigrated to Vancouver, said the winning design elevates the opera stage, creating room for a courtyard and a better entrance on the ground level.

On the outside, the venue’s design suggests a lantern and an opening theatre curtain – key elements of a Chinese opera performance – the architects said.

The design jury and Cantonese opera performer Yuen Siu-fai said the design is very friendly to performers. “We finally have a venue in which doors are large enough for our costumes to go through. Performers will not need to bend down in order to go through them,” Yuen said. Also, the make-up room is close to the stage, he added.

The venue is expected to be completed in 2016.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chairwoman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, said she has told the authority to control development costs carefully and secure the best possible investment returns.

She blamed the huge price increase on the surge in inflation, construction costs and the addition of open space and educational facilities to the winning design.

She declined to say whether the arts hub project would exceed its HK$21.6 billion budget. “We will only estimate that when all the designs are finalised,” she said. “We will report our financial situation later to the Legislative Council.”

The authority said the project’s approved budget has increased to HK$23.5 billion.