A design competition to pick the first venue at the West Kowloon arts hub later this year will use a rigorous new screening system to prevent conflicts of interest in the judging, a hub official said yesterday.
Bernard Lim Wan-fung, the competition's independent professional adviser, also announced the five architectural teams that have been shortlisted to build the Xiqu Centre for Cantonese Opera.
He said the design contest, run by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, would use a stringent, dual system of declaring interests to ensure jurors' independence from the architectural teams vying for the project.
'The entrants must declare their relationship with all jurors and the authority's management and staff, while all board members of the authority and the jurors are also required to declare their interests with every participant,' Lim said.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying faced controversy earlier this year over his role as a juror in the arts hub's master plan design competition in 2001. He was criticised for failing to declare his directorship in a company, while colleagues in his firm helped one of the contest's competitors.
The five shortlisted teams announced yesterday are BTA & RLP, Foster+Partners partnered with O Studio Architects, Mecanoo Architecten with Leigh & Orange, Safdie Architects, and Wong & Ouyang in collaboration with Diamond and Schmitt.
The teams are expected to submit their designs by October, and will meet the jurors in workshops at a later stage. The contest winner will be announced in December.
The authority's executive director of performing arts, Louis Yu Kwok-lit, said: 'The Xiqu Centre will be an icon at the eastern entrance of the arts hub. It's not only about the venue's character and identity, but also the image of the whole place.'
Jurors include Chinese opera expert Yuen Siu Fai; the secretary general of the International Union of Architects, Jordi Farrando; award-winning architect Odile Decq from France; and Cui Kai from the mainland, known as China's national design master.
All the finalists, chosen from more than 50 global teams, have international backgrounds in designing performing arts venues, and have worked with Hong Kong architectural firms.
Familiar faces among the shortlisted teams include Foster+Partners, led by British architect Norman Foster, whose urban park design won the arts hub's master plan design competition.