West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is one of the world’s largest and most ambitious arts and cultural building programmes which will deliver numbers of new performance and visual arts venues, museums, open spaces and education resources for Hong Kong.
The Lyric Theatre Complex at WKCD will comprise a 1,450-seat lyric theatre, a 600-seat medium theatre and a 270-seat studio theatre. The complex will house extensive rehearsal facilities for dance performances, and the Resident Company Centre, with a full range of professional rehearsal, communal and supporting facilities, serving as a powerhouse for creativity dedicated for long term dance development.
Under the joint venture of the Netherlands-based UNStudio and the local architect AD+RG, WSP has been offering multidisciplinary services including building services, fire engineering, environmental, CFD modelling for thermal comfort and local BEAM Plus green building assessment services.
Perfect acoustic environment for performances
The Lyric Theatre Complex is located in close proximity to the MTR Tung Chung Line and Airport Express Line, which creates acoustic challenge to the complex seated right above the tunnel that the two lines share. Being noise sensitive, the theatre complex will be provided with substantial vibration isolation measures for minimising structural borne noise. All theatre spaces are acoustically isolated and designed by specialist acoustics consultant for the best acoustic performance in this performing arts venue.
As there are stringent acoustic requirements for all performance spaces and associated control rooms, we have paid special attention and done extensive calculations and verifications on the MVAC system design including sizing of air duct with limited velocities, selection of displacement floor diffusers, silence selection, and air handling units (AHUs) with electrically commutated (EC) plug fans. In order to fulfill the desired acoustic requirements, the majority of the AHUs are located on the roof not only for achieving better air quality but also providing attenuation to the noise sensitive spaces.
Keeping the audience comfortable
The Lyric Theatre Complex has to accommodate a large number of visitors simultaneously during events. Hence, good air quality is crucial not just for audience’s comfort but for immersing them in the shows. WSP have conducted environmental review study focusing on air quality issues based on refined carriageway exhaust locations to create a clean air environment.
Thermal comfort is another key consideration to keep the audience comfortable in the theatre. Energy efficient displacement air conditioning systems are adopted for Lyric Theatre, Medium Theatre and Studio Theatre. WSP has carried out CFD modelling for the three theatres including both auditorium and fly towers and visualised the performance with 3D model. Flexibility in operation is very crucial for the theatre, thus the audience seating areas including stall levels, balcony level, and circle level are zoned separately and served by dedicated AHUs for better control of thermal performance and indoor air quality responsive to the respective occupied zones.
Easy vertical transportation
The Lyric Theatre Complex contains three theatres, rehearsal spaces, retail and dining spaces, front of house and back of house, while the Lyric Theatre’s main stage level is located at the basement, and Medium Theatre and Studio Theatre’s main stage levels are above ground. Combined in one complex building, vertical transportation of the three theatres and other facilities has been carefully reviewed in order to address different user requirements and lift control zones taking into account security requirements. Vertical circulation is achieved through a combination of escalators, passenger lifts and freight lifts for delivering theatrical equipment from basement loading bay up to various levels of the three theatres and rehearsal spaces.
Resolving spatial constraints by deep basement and headroom
The Lyric Theatre Complex is situated within WKCD’s common basement which accommodates the district cooling plant serving the entire WKCD, underpass road, basement car park and communal lobbies connecting the basement up to the Artist Square level. The complex has multiple basement levels for arranging various back of house programmes. Due to deep basement, dynamic smoke extraction systems and staircase pressurization systems are adopted. Fire engineering approach is also employed to optimise the extent of fire compartments and provision of smoke extraction systems in the deep basement for achieving a more cost-effective design and a desired headroom for theatre operation.
The project team adopts BIM modelling from design stage and throughout construction stage to visualise the complex geometry of the building with appreciation on the 3D geometry of the unique architectural design and complexity of the structural engineering and building services installations. 3D models are helpful to optimise the headroom and enhance services and structural coordination.