Architects: G.W. Grey, S.F. Liu, Hong Kong, 1952
The State Theatre (known as Empire Theatre until 1959) was opened in 1952. This significant example of Post-War Modern Movement architecture is extremely valuable because of its unique roof construction. A towering landmark in the district of North Point on Hong Kong Island and the last grand post-war theatre structure still standing in the city, the theatre is distinguished by the uncommon use of parabolic concrete roof trusses, which carries the reinforced concrete roof slabs over the auditorium, enabling a capacity of nearly 1200 seats. Further features of this rare roof construction include favourable acoustical conditions due to the special curvature of the roof slabs and beneficial isolation from the external sounds for the main hall. Meanwhile, the facade and elevation of the cinema is graced by streamline moderne features, the likes of which are rare in Hong Kong. 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. Unfortunately, the State Theatre of Hong Kong is now endangered and rumours about its possible demolition can be heard. The biggest threat to its existence is an on-going buyout of the complex surrounding the former theatre. Upon completion of the buyout, it is expected the theatre will be demolished in favour of two business towers to be erected in its spot. The theatre is on a list of buildings to be assessed for potential grading by the Antiquities Advisory Board of Hong Kong. However, it is unclear when the assessment will take place. Despite significant alternations done to the interior of the building, the State Theatre is still, undoubtedly, valuable built heritage, for both its historical significance and construction rarity. Docomomo International would like to raise awareness for this case and express its full support to all the initiatives conducted against the possible demolition of this significant example of Hong Kong´s Post-War Modern Movement architecture.
Update: This article was published in 2014 due to concerns among conservationists and North Point residents due to the threat of its demolition before the official grading by the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB). Hence in 2016, the guided-tour agency Walk-In Hong Kong launched a Conservation Advocacy Campaign titled “Save our State” and successfully lobbied the AAB to upgrade its heritage grading status from Grade Three to a Grade One. Recognizing State Theatre’s historical and cultural significance to Hong Kong, New World Development Limited acquired 95% of the complex as its first conservation project.
For the write-up of State Theatre, visit: https://www.docomomo.hk/project/state-theatre/