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Brits bid for piece of West Kowloon bonanza

A number of UK practices have registered their interest in the first major building to come out of a huge and controversial masterplan in Hong Kong

The AJ understands firms from the UK are among those from around the world vying to design the Xiqu Centre within the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Earlier this month officials were forced to deny reports that Foster + Partners won a 2001 competition to masterplan the district despite advice that its bid be disqualified.

The South China Morning Post reported that the winning designs were ‘apparently rejected by technical advisers to the judging panel’.

The successful Foster + Partners designs were scrapped in 2006, only for the firm to win a replacement competition in 2011.

Elizabeth Tai, principle assistant secretary of the Home Affairs Bureau in Hong Kong, wrote to the editor of the Post denying the Foster designs were ever rejected.

‘The entry… was never disqualified, or recommended to be disqualified by the technical panel,’ she said.

A spokeswoman for the WKCD Authority told AJ the controversy had no bearing on the current scheme.She said: ‘The relationship with Foster is very much ongoing and positive

‘UK architects are held in high esteem in Hong Kong and we welcome bids for further work on the cultural district. We have had a high level of interest from local and international firms in the Xiqu Centre, including from some UK firms.”

The Xiqu Centre will be designed to host Cantonese and other Chinese opera performances.

Scheduled for completion towards the end of 2015, it will be the first of 17 core arts and cultural venues to be opened within the district.

The competition covers the design of a 1,100-seat main theatre, a 400-seat small theatre, a tea house for performances for audiences up to 200, and ancillary training and education facilities.

Interested parties need to submit expressions of interest to the WKCDA by 10 April.

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