Bamboo understudy fills in for future Hong Kong opera house


February 13, 2013

The theater stands on the site of the planned Xiqu Centre opera house

The theater stands on the site of the planned Xiqu Centre opera house

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Standing, temporarily, on the site of Hong Kong's yet-to-be Xiqu Centre opera house, the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre has returned for a three-week program of Cantonese opera.

Designed by Hong Kong architect William Li, the bamboo structure can seat an 800-strong audience without need of central supporting columns (which are to be avoided in any sort of public performance space, ideally).

It may be built in the style of a Chinese Temple, but the 21st Century is very much in evidence: QR codes join English and Chinese text on the theater's signs. Having been unable to track down build times, I won't contradict the description of the theater as pop-up architecture, though I'm conscious that, if this phrase is of any use, it's for describing buildings that have appeared quickly, preferably taking locals by surprise. If a building is merely temporary, let's just call it that.

The final opera house will be the first of 17 new buildings are the 0.4-sq km (0.15-sq mile) West Kowloon Cultural District, the development of which is been overseen by Foster + Partners. The opera house itself is being designed by Bing Thom Architects and Ronald Lu & Partners.

Bing Thom's Xiqu Centre opera house concept design (Image: Bing Thom)

Also among the 17 is the almost-certain-to-look-interestingly-wacky M+ Museum of Visual Culture, design teams for which have been shortlisted to six, including familiar names like Renzo Piano and Herzog & de Meuron.

The Hong Kong Standard reports that around 30,000 people visited the theater in its first six days after opening. Once construction begins on the Xiqu Centre, the Bamboo Theatre will relocated to the Great Park (which is also yet to exist.)

The program of events at West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre will end on February 16.

Sources: WKCDA, The Hong Kong Standard, Dezeen, Bing Thom

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Bet it creaks in a wind!


Stunning- the amazing strength of bamboo is under-appeciated in the West- its also one of the greenest building materials being extremely fast and easy to grow, yet very lightweight.

It can also be very durable.

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