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Henning Larsen-designed Shaw Auditorium opens at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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Cultural Facilities

Henning Larsen-designed Shaw Auditorium opens at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The project celebrated its grand opening as part of HKUST’s thirtieth anniversary celebration.

By David Malone, Managing Editor | November 17, 2021
Shaw Auditorium at HKUST
All photos: Kris Provoost

The Shaw Auditorium opened on Nov. 17 on the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) campus.

The Henning Larsen-designed building combines a highly flexible, acoustically sophisticated auditorium with bright social spaces. Together, these spaces provide a “living room” for the campus community and a new world-class venue for Hong Kong.

The Shaw Auditorium stands on the hillside in the south of HKUST’s Clear Water Bay campus. It acts as the gateway to the campus between the academic faculties and neighboring community. Visitors are shaded and sheltered from the rain by the building’s deep cantilevers, which draw on the vernacular colonnades and canopies of Hong Kong’s traditional architecture.

Shaw Auditorium interior

Surrounded by orthogonal buildings, the auditorium’s curved form stands out and is meant to signal the artistic and cultural activities within. The circular building appears as three concentric white rings, interspersed with glazing to reveal panoramic views of Sai Kung Bay. The building is welcoming on all sides with no formal front or back.

A series of comfortable lobbies, a cafe, classrooms, and circulation spaces are conceived as an informal social focus for the campus where students can meet, study, and relax. As such, the auditorium is more than a destination for major events and becomes part of the everyday life of the campus community.

Shaw Auditorium theater space

The venue can be adapted to accommodate a wide range of events from a live orchestra to amplified concerts, talks, gala dinners, and exhibitions. A proscenium can be lowered to frame the stage for theater and ballet while the rectilinear plan brings the audience close to the performers and creates an intimate atmosphere. The raked seating can be configured to fit 840 or 1,300 seats, or stored to provide an open surface for conferences, open days, and exhibitions. The curved wall can also function as a 360-degree projection screen.

Shaw Auditorium circulation

The project was designed with a BEAM Platinum environmental strategy that includes a district cooling system, photovoltaic panels over more than half the roof, a highly efficient façade, lighting control, and brushless DC motors fan coil units. A smart ventilation Aircuity System monitors the indoor air quality to ensure sufficient fresh air, using precision sensors to save energy. Acoustic separation, anti-vibration and noise control measures are in place for all building services equipment. The outer wall of the auditorium is clad in bamboo from a renewable supply, mineral paint has been specified for the white façade, and Norwegian wool is used in the acoustic panels.

Henning Larsen designed the project in collaboration with Wong Tung and Partners, WSP Hong Kong, Theatreplan, Marshall Day Acoustics, URBIS, Inhabit, CTA, and RLB.

Shaw Auditorium aerial

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