Tailor-made Performance Venue
Showcasing Cultural Building Construction
Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Architectural Services Department

Exemplary Services@Gov
2015
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Cantonese Opera is a precious art form and cultural treasure in Hong Kong and Southern China. To provide more performance venues for Cantonese Opera and to support its further development, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) cooperatively constructed the New Wing of the Ko Shan Theatre.

Collecting wisdom to address special needs

This is the first performance venue dedicated to Cantonese Opera and the only of its kind, as other LCSD performance venues are designed for multi-purpose use. There is neither a precedent to follow, nor international standards to conform to, when designing this type of venue. Thus, it requires the two government departments to think innovatively to tackle all the unique challenges. To better understand stakeholders’ needs, the departments held various brainstorming sessions and value management workshops for working partners. Project members frequently attended meetings of the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee and the District Council to collect a range of opinions from the Cantonese Opera sector, theatre users and the local neighbourhood.

The New Wing provides a one-stop service venue for Cantonese Opera troupes, covering costume preparations, make-up, rehearsals, performances, post-performance talks, as well as conferences and exhibitions. Multiple aspects of the theatre were tailor-made for Cantonese Opera performances, and derived through optimisation of traditional designs. For example, the floor-to-ceiling height of the rehearsal room is six metres, which allows the performers to freely do somersaults and acrobatic activities. The dressing rooms for leading characters are on the same floor as the stage; the three-metre high dressing room door allows convenient entry and exit for performers wearing large headdress. The stage is equipped with a professional rigging system, an elevated orchestra pit and advanced lighting, sound and subtitle display equipment to ensure extraordinary audio-visual enjoyment. The horseshoe-shaped arrangement of the auditorium provides a great viewing angle for all members of the audience.

Landscaping blends harmoniously with the theatre

The building is designed to conform to the topography of the area. Glass window walls allow spectacular views of the scenery of the outdoor garden, which is successfully incorporated as part of the theatre’s designed layout. Additionally, the New Wing is the only performance venue in Hong Kong with a rooftop garden. With its built-in elevator providing direct access and a green footpath, the garden, which opens at 6 am, is a wonderful place for morning exercisers and nearby residents to spend their leisure time. Furthermore, in response to increased traffic flow and vehicle-pedestrian congestion problems caused by the new theatre, the two departments strove for extra resources to increase the amount of parking, escalators and covered walkways – making access to the theatre and park safer and easier.

The LCSD and the ArchSD each hold a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of performing arts venue management and architectural design, respectively. For this project, the two departments utilised each other’s expertise, and successfully built a high-quality performing arts venue, thereby promoting the heritage of Cantonese Opera to the benefit of the Cantonese Opera community, performing arts as a whole, and the general public.

The New Wing blends in harmoniously with the surrounding natural environment.
The New Wing blends in harmoniously with the surrounding natural environment.
The Chinese window lattices at the foyer embody the traditional Chinese architecture style.
The Chinese window lattices at the foyer embody the traditional Chinese architecture style.
The dressing room is equipped with giant door for easy access by performers with large costumes.
The dressing room is equipped with giant door for easy access by performers with large costumes.