Revery Architecture recently completed work on a performing arts center in Hong Kong's Kowloon Cultural District. The Xiqu Centre features a striking facade made up of curved aluminum that envelops glazing. The firm likens the effect to a lantern shimmering behind a beaded stage curtain.

Created in collaboration with Ronald Lu & Partners, the Xiqu Centre has been in the works for quite some time (Revery Architecture was previously named Bing Thom Architects) and was built to a considerable budget of US$347 million. The aluminum facade comprises a total of 25,000 pieces that were CNC (computer numerically controlled) cut from untreated marine-grade aluminum piping in alternating patterns around the building. The result is quite unusual.

The interior of the building measures 320,000 sq ft (29,728 sq m) and is centered around a suspended theater. This was first built on the ground and then lifted into place and suspended on six large columns. The rest of the Xiqu Centre was then constructed around it. As well as being novel, the suspended design serves a practical purpose and helps, along with dampening and other measures, to mitigate the vibration and sounds from the surrounding city. This is crucial as a rail line runs underground beneath the theater.

"Qi (meaning flow) is expressed throughout the complex with curvilinear paths and forms and arched entrances designed around a mesmerizing, multi-level circular atrium," says Revery Architecture. "The innovative design decision to suspend Xiqu Centre's breathtaking 1,073-seat Grand Theatre at the top of the building 90 ft (27 m) off the ground, facilitates internal configuration of the atrium and public plaza while strategically isolating the auditorium from vibration and the high ambient noise levels of its surrounding urban infrastructure. This inventive design move was hugely beneficial in enabling construction to safely occur within and below the theater simultaneously, resulting in a reduced construction timeline."

The elevated theater is flanked by two sky gardens offering choice views of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, while elsewhere in the Xiqu Centre lies a 200-seat Tea House theater, rehearsal studios, recording studios, education and administrative spaces, lecture rooms, and retail areas. The interior courtyard also includes exhibitions and stalls promoting the area's cultural heritage.

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