BuroHappold's night at the opera

Jez Abbott
08 Feb 2019

British designers have made a home for traditional Chinese opera dating back to the third century.

The Xiqu Centre provides the first permanent Hong Kong home for xiqu and was brought to life by Bath-based multi-disciplinary engineering consultant BuroHappold.

The 1,000+ seat theatre complex in West Kowloon, Hong Kong also has a 200-seat tea house theatre along with rehearsal and meeting areas, retail and dining venues.

Xiqu Centre combines theatre, art and community spaces and threw up highly complex creative and engineering challenges.

As the building is next to the West Kowloon station and directly above another station and rail tunnels, the theatre had to be protected from vibration and noise.

So the engineers suspended the structure 25 metres above the ground with a design involving 1,800 tonnes of steel roof trusses which were lifted into place using a technique called strand jacking.

This enabled builders to quickly and safely lift the roof truss and theatre truss and free up the site area so work could continue while construction of the roof went ahead.

Suspending the grand theatre below the roof at the top of the building minimises the use of columns within the large, open atrium on the ground floor.

Advanced geometrical techniques and software were used to bring the client's vision of a curved roof to life and the entire form is a object lesson in sustainability.

The building has achieved a BEAM plus gold rating and the whole project was delivered in a digital BIM environment.

This structure is the first of 17 arts and cultural venues located in the newly-formed West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) - one of the biggest cultural precincts in the world.

The high-performance building envelope reduces the impact of thermal and solar loads, while external fins and large overhangs on the glazed corners of the building offer shade.

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