Lau Sun-fo (劉新科) & George.W. Grey
King’s Road, North Point
The State Theatre, originally established as the Empire Theatre in 1952, was a pioneer in bringing international art and cultural performances to town, paving way for the opening of Hong Kong’s City Hall a decade later. The Empire Theatre only operated for five years. Two years later in 1959, the complex was reopened as State Theatre. It is the only remaining structure built in the post-war Little Shanghai, which is what the North Point area was called in the 50s when migrants from Shanghai fled political turmoil in China. Even within the rest of Hong Kong, it is dubbed the last grand post-war theatre structure standing in the city. The cinema/theatre was also a witness to the rise of Cantonese theatre of the 70s and 80s.
In addition to the State Theatre’s cultural significance, it also possesses a structural value that lies in its roof structure that one can rarely come across in Asia. The parabolic concrete exoskeleton truss lifts the roof and provides support to the entire building. The result is a spacious column-less auditorium that can seat more than 1,200 audiences. The curvaton also doubles as a natural amplifier and sound isolator, creating optimal acoustical conditions that isolate external sounds for the main auditorium. Meanwhile, the facade and elevation of the cinema are graced by streamlining modern features, the likes of which are rare in Hong Kong. The front door façade features a bold wall relief mural by renowned contemporary Chinese artist Mei Yutian, featuring Chinese, Southeast Asian and Greek dancers. The rest of the façade comprises blocks of color overlapping each other, making it look less like one single mass. The cinema was also the first in Hong Kong to provide underground parking facilities. The main building served its original function until 1997, when it was converted into a snooker hall and sauna. The whole complex also includes a ground floor shopping arcade and two attached apartment blocks.
For news on State Theatre regarding its threat of demolition several years ago, visit: https://www.docomomo.hk/under-threat-state-theatre-in-hong-kong/
For detailed news on the matter by Docomomo International, visit: https://www.docomomo.hk/news-from-docomomo-international-heritage-in-danger/