HK’s search for housing space continues

I just took a photo of the harbour on the off-chance that the cheapo and unpredictable phone-camera would do something interesting with the light. It didn’t – the scene came out precisely as leaden, gray and hazy as it looked in real life. Before deleting the picture, however, I spotted a new addition to the West Kowloon waterfront: a squat cylindrical structure, like a gasometer. Zooming in, I couldn’t help noticing that it is vast

Judging from the white building to the right of it, which is closer, it must be at least 12 floors high – probably more like 15. It could be the top half of the world’s biggest pedal-bin, or maybe the first-ever multi-storey aircraft hangar.

It is, of course, the Xiqu Centre.

We all knew there was going to be a Chinese Opera venue at the West Kowloon Cultural Hub Zone. We all assumed that, like other Hong Kong government-led arts initiatives, it would primarily be an expensive and elaborate construction project. One or two of the most perceptive among us may even have suspected that the bureaucrats would find a way to make the thing architecturally shit. But – who could have guessed it was going to be this absurdly massive?

My hunch is that the original plans were drawn up in centimetres, and the engineers and contractors doing the construction thought the measurements were in inches – so everything is 2.54 times bigger than intended.

This makes sense: it suggests the original idea was for a four- or five-storey building covering the space of maybe three or four tennis courts – which sounds perfect for the purpose, especially if it also hosts some other worthy but minority-taste dramatic arts (say kabuki) and maybe a quasi-quaint tea house.

Could this also be the explanation for the outsized mega-Cruise Terminal at Kai Tak, the miles-long Worm-from-Dune that handles one ship a week?

And now back to the latest on Hong Kong’s Shortage of Land


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10 Responses to HK’s search for housing space continues

  1. Stuart says:

    I thought that too when I saw it last month, then my gaze moved to the left and saw it in comparison with the high low speed railway station, and, elements mall with its dozen or so towers singing up.

    No it’s not big at all in the context of construction in HK.

  2. Big Al says:

    Interesting in the SCMP article that the six proposed reclamation sites will “… would present the fewest “insurmountable difficulties” in terms of technology …”. Presumably this means that if there are only a couple of “insurmountable” difficulties then these could, in fact, be “surmounted”. So, what’s the Hong Kong government’s definition of “insurmountable” then?

  3. Cassowary says:

    All this for an art form whose aficionados are an average age of 65.

    In 10 years time they’ll have ripped out the stage and it’ll be used to host anime conventions and car shows.

  4. Probably says:

    Maybe they did a reverse ‘Spinal Tap’ Stonehenge and mixed up feet and inches

  5. Probably says:

    And Sir, you disrespect the glorious project that is the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. The Dream Cruise boat docks there twice each week. Obviously an unquestionably excellent use of taxpayers money to subsidise a private gambling venture.

  6. Stanley Lieber says:

    How the hell does one pronounce “Xiqu”? Couldn’t these arrogant mental defectives simply use the Roman alphabet in the same manner as everybody else?

  7. @Cassowary – unless Hong Kong’s youngsters develop a taste for Cantonese opera as a subtle protest against creeping Mandarinisation. I wouldn’t rule it out.

  8. Joe Blow says:

    Xiqu sounds like a uber-pretentious, over priced sushi joint. Something you would find in Elgin Street at the spot where the Thai-Korean fusion ‘happening’ used to be before it closed down after 6 months of trying too hard.

  9. Pete says:

    According to the SCMP:

    Other proposals include … building on golf courses.

    Yeah, right.

  10. Gatts says:

    It’s still flabbergastering how they managed to turn the name of a center for CANTONESE opera into a Mandarin mainland-pinyin name. It can’t get more ironic then this can it?

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