This small-scale but technically perfect project was designed to promote and uplift a significant aspect of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage: Cantonese Opera. An addition to the existing Ko Shan Theatre in Kowloon, the extremely sustainable, BEAM Gold-certified New Wing is comprised of a 600-seats theatre with fly-tower facilities, dressing rooms, rehearsal rooms, and singing practice rooms. There is also a souvenir shop, photographic studio, resource centre, tea house and an exhibition hall – all this built on a site the size of four tennis courts.
The project had two concurrent design themes: “a theatre inside a park” and “a park inside a theatre”. The development blends harmoniously with the existing topography, preserving mature precious trees, while the external timber sun-shading fins extend this tree-scape, soften the building mass and merge with the surrounding natural environment. A “green trail” also connects the at-grade park vertically with the landscaped terraces and a roof garden called the “Moon Lawn”.
Meanwhile, inside, the auditorium is surrounded by a curvilinear foyer – a public realm that brings the surrounding park into the theatre interior. Natural daylight, sounds, breezes, and scenery are captured through the high-performance glazing, with the sun-shading fins and electrically-operated windows able to open during favourable weather to provide natural ventilation and minimise energy consumption.
The New Wing is focused on the users, with numerous amenities and barrier-free access for the disabled. The horseshoe-shaped auditorium improves the audience experience through better views and by bringing people closer to the stage. Most importantly the new wing enhances the existing Ko Shan Theatre, helping to preserve and promote this important cultural heritage, and putting Hong Kong at the forefront of keeping this traditional art form alive.