The site is an existing amphitheatre in Morse Park which was completed in 1967 and have since grown along with the people of the old residential district of Wong Tai Sin. What can we inject in such setting to benefit the community in this most ageing district of Hong Kong? In discussing with the District Council who initiated this district project, apart from enhancing the outdoor theatre for Cantonese Operas to celebrate the local traditional culture of the City with its indoor counterpart - the Xiqu Centre; the project offered the opportunity to expand the potential of the venue to attract varieties of activities into the district. It was of equal importance that in upgrading its value, the original essence of the place which has become part of daily life of the residents would be preserved.
Making reference to the tradition of open courtyard performances in Chinese Opera history, the open amphitheatre setting is maintained to provide an outdoor venue for Cantonese Opera events. It further accommodates performance areas of different nature, encourages wider range of activities from operas to park concerts, share and care events to weekend bazaars. The shelters pull together performers and participants while maintaining the sense of an open theatre in the park.
The spatial concept is to create and connect varieties of spaces in the amphitheatre and the park to encourage diversified activities. Entering the forecourt, metal trellis with bamboo planting leads to the existing pavilion on one side; an extending canopy signifies the amphitheatre on the other. From the amphitheatre, a metal shelter continues into the park greenery, welcoming entrances from the park, merging the built and nature. All these elements come together in a dynamic whole, juxtaposing between the old and new, balancing between geometrical purity and the surrounding natural environment, creating multiple layers of space for quiet individual wander, casual gathering to organized social events. Trellis, shelters and greenery create a variety of spatial experiences for different activities. While preserving daily routines of the residents, diversified activities are brought to the familiar environment home to the ageing district, attracting younger generations, fostering communications between the elderly and the youth.
The existing amphitheatre is maintained and modified to accommodate social events of today allowing sustainable development of the amphitheatre as well as the park to continue its growth with the district. While providing shelter over the amphitheatre and the seating, the sides of the venue are kept open to let in natural lighting and ventilation. A skylight is introduced to create a focus on the central performance area, this also enhances the effect of natural daylight. Vertical greening, together with metal canopies and trellis, acts as shading device while creating a natural setting. Surrounding park greenery and vertical greening allow natural scenery into the amphitheatre, providing a harmonious backdrop for the events.