The grade I-listed State Theatre at North Point is the oldest surviving international class theatre in Hong Kong. Purcell and WilkinsonEyre are leading the revitalisation of this landmark building as part of a major new project by New World Development.
Since its opening in 1952, the State Theatre, designed by Architects George W. Grey and S.F. Lew, has played a key role in producing and delivering performance art and culture in Hong Kong. Its early success was largely thanks to impresario Harry Odell, who was instrumental in bringing international performers and movies to Hong Kong.
Following last year’s launch of our art and design district Victoria Dockside, we are delighted to embark on another transformation project that is historically and architecturally significant to Asia. The State Theatre is one of the last standing cultural icons of Hong Kong and together with our international team, we will do our best to conserve and restore this iconic building to its original glamour and build a cultural oasis that serves the community.
Seventy years on, the theatre is now embedded in Hong Kong’s dense cityscape, but retains a strong visual presence due to its prominent position and long, easterly vista. The building’s architectural style is an exemplar of the architectural Modern Movement in Hong Kong, alongside the former Central Market and Central Post Office. Uniquely, the building has a roof structure composed of externally exposed reinforced concrete parabolic arch beam roof trusses supporting a suspended reinforced concrete curved roof hung below.
The building survived a fire in 1995 and was given a new lease of life in 1999 with its adaptation to a billiard and snooker club. New World Development’s vision to create a new arts hub in North Point, once known as “Little Shanghai” by those who first settled there, will see the restored and revitalised theatre as the centre-piece of a vibrant, new cultural district.
All image credits: New World Development Company Limited.
The State Theatre is a rare survival from the early Post-War years, when performance art was extending its global reach to enrich the culture of ordinary people. This programme of sensitive and considered adaptation will liberate the building to become the visual and cultural focus of ‘Little Shanghai’ once more.