The Hong Kong Film Archive and Island East Sports Centre
Sai Wan Ho has recently
become home to the Hong Kong Film Archive -- a permanent home for
the preservation and display of Hong Kong's
historical film materials.
The first dedicated facility of its type in Hong Kong, the Archive
is housed in a complex featuring an adjacent leisure centre and
public open space.
According to Architectural
Services Department (ArchSD) Senior Architect WY Chan, the complex's
guided in part by site constraint and area requirements. "When
we approached the design, we tried to have two separate building,
with linked features on the exterior," Chan says. At the same
time, the designers sought to create differing identities for each
building, with exteriors clad in a combination of glass, metal cladding
and treatments on the exterior reflect the functions within each
building. The metal cladding over portions of the Film Archive walls
serves an insulation purpose, providing a shield from the Western
sun, while glazing envelops the resource centre and offices. On
the leisure centre, solid walls mark the games hall and a span of
glass encloses the gymnasium. Plant rooms are provided on the rear
of the building to avoid it taking a squared form while the metal
roof rests above clerestory glazing set high to avoid wayward balls
in the games hall.
architects note a greater design emphasis on the lower exterior
areas, where the buildings are more open, and where visitors will
stroll through the open plaza. Colour on the two buildings is mainly
in pink, white, grey and green accents to give a modern look. While
the Film Archive's
exterior features straight lines, some curvilinear elements have
been incorporated on the leisure centre exterior. The differing
materials, colours and textures, such as the bands that traverse
the facades, also serve to reduce the scale of the development.
Effect lighting is being applied to the exterior, with colors set
to morph across the Film Archive's
main elevation and create a sense of target for people walking towards
entrances to each building are set at 45-degree angles to the Lei
King Road footpath, with both bookending the start of a paved plaza
between the two buildings. The area passes through to a park beside
the Island Eastern Corridor. A pattern is incorporated on the ground
to point to the entrances for people approaching the complex from
the rear, and the space can possibly be used in future for outdoor
exhibitions or evening film screenings.
Hong Kong Film Archive
The Hong Kong Film Archive represents the first permanent and purpose-built
home for Hong Kong's
film heritage. While the local film industry can be traced back
to the turn of the century, the Film Archive's
own history goes back
ten years. The push for such a facility was born when filmmakers,
historians, researchers, programmers and the public at large realised
Hong Kong was losing its film heritage. Many local movies, including
most of Hong Kong's
pre-war movies, were already chalked up as lost through neglect
or improper storage of films. And many existing materials remained
beyond reach for research or presentation.
group requested the government to build a permanent facility to
store and preserve archival materials: film prints, advertising
materials, books and other related items. The government subsequently
invited the former Urban Services Department (USD) to look into
the feasibility of setting up a film archive. USD staff were sent
overseas to visit film archives and appreciate the specific functions
and facilities. By 1993 the resulting feasibility report was endorsed
by the then-Urban Council.
brief was subsequently prepared for Architectural Services Department
and consultant Hsin Yieh Architects & Associates, including
the basic facilities of store rooms, a cinema, a resources section,
an exhibition hall and administration areas. The Film Archive's
Dr Henning Schou also provided guidance throughout the project development.
Under the design, a clear division of areas is observed inside the
building, with the Archive's
storage, preservation and service facilities placed to the rear
of the building, while selected public and semi-public areas are
placed towards the glazed main facade.
to the Archive enter into a sunlit ground floor lobby under a triple-height
atrium. According to the architects, this level and the floor above
feature materials -- white marble slabs, dark granite panels and
metal-clad columns -- chosen to simulate the appearance of a high-class
cinema. The lower lobby features an entry to the exhibition hall,
a future retailing area partitioned off by glazing and the Archive's
Patrons for the cinema on the first floor are offered the choice
between wood-paneled elevators or a staircase to travel up to the
first floor auditorium.
upper lobby offers space for cinema and conference attendees to
mill about before entering the auditorium. Visitors can spend their
time looking at small display stands or can peer back down through
the small atrium to the Archive's
front doors. Above the auditorium is a signbox commissioned especially
by the Archive. Set behind matte white alabaster are multi-layered
images that cast shadows when the many lights behind are switched
and shifted. The installation features an impression of movement
through the shadows and displays six recognisable images of individuals
and film characters. Another artwork brought in by the Archive is
a silhouette statue of a '60s starlet and kung-fu fighter placed
beside the staircase. Also provided on the first floor are washrooms
and a VIP room for special guests. Placed behind closed doors to
the public is the first of the four cold stores, located behind
the service areas.
third floor above houses a resource centre for industry and research
use. Video viewing booths are provided as well as the requisite
shelves for books and other periodicals. Further storage for films
is provided on this level and on the floor above.
fourth floor houses the Archive's
administration areas, as well as laboratories for film restoration
and digital transfer of materials for preservation purposes. The
rooftop is currently open space beneath a canopy, and houses the
HVAC plant. Once additional storage space is needed -- the Archive
expects its vaults to be 80 per cent full once the existing collection
is completely moved in -- the roof can be enclosed and additional
facilities provided. The loading required for expansion has been
planned for in the structural design, the architects note.
Preserving films properly is a highly specialised process, calling
for cold stores designed specifically for the materials safeguarded
within. The developing process for film is continuous; as the film
ages, acidic gas is slowly emitted in less-than ideal storage situations.
Over time, these emissions lead to irreparable deterioration to
a reel of film, as well as to film stock resting nearby. Stringent
temperature and humidity control is needed to slow this process.
vaults are divided across several floors, with areas capable of
storing prints of different ages, conditions, reel lengths or types
separately as necessary. Film prints are stored under strictly controlled
conditions at four degrees centigrade -- the range of fluctuation
is plus or minus half a degree. Relative humidity is always below
35 percent using a Munters dehumidification system supplied by Hong
Kong and China Gas.
dehumidification adopts a bespoke configuration -- the first of
its type worldwide -- using two compartments for dehumidification
and for extracting the acid emissions from the film. For environmental
reasons, air is treated before it is released to outside the building.
and floors inside the vaults are insulated with a 100 mm proprietary
system, with steel plate flooring shielding insulation underfoot.
The design ensures no air leakage. Storage racks run on tracks within
the high ceiling spaces, with the floor reinforced to take up the
load. Fire protection is provided in all stores with an HFP system.
of the temperature changes when removing prints from the vaults,
prints awaiting screening are placed for a day within acclimatisation
rooms provided at the store entries. To gradually warm up the prints
and prevent condensation, a separate air-conditioning system allows
temperatures to rise at about one degree per hour.
from the stores for film reels, the fourth floor contains a relatively
less-chilly storage area for film-related materials -- books, posters,
videotapes, VCDs, DVDs and other items -- in the Archive's
collection. All storage
areas are designed to operate around-the-clock, and a back-up system
is provided to ensure that the cold stores will at no time shut
The 127-seat cinema is housed on the first floor and is accessed
from the mezzanine lobby area. Inside the auditorium, rows of seats
rise at a shallow pitch from the front stage towards a curved back
wall. Above the rows, the ceiling takes a stepped arrangement echoing
the depth between aisle steps.
seats follow a continental seating arrangement without aisles interrupting
the rows. Instead, the rows are accessed from aisles at either side
of the theatre hall. The arrangement is optimum for a cinema, remarks
Leisure and Cultural Services Department Technical Director Mark
Taylor, as viewers otherwise pressed up against side walls would
have no chance to hear the cinema sound system's
effect. Space for four wheelchairs has been provided on both sides
of the hall and safety lighting is provided with phosphorescent
glowstrips on the steps.
control reverberation and keep any echo imperceptible within the
hall, the Archive set several acoustic requirements, explains Taylor.
"We gave the acoustician some particular criteria: That we
wanted higher absorption at lower level, semi-absorption at higher
level to stop the lateral sound reflection, and we didn't
want a straight
back wall, hence the curve." As a result, acoustically treated
wood paneling lines the upper walls while cloth covers the lower
serve the needs of conferences, the stage is retractable and heavy
old-style cinema curtains offer a suitable backdrop. All seats boast
writing tablets, designed to quickly stow and cause no obstruction
in panic or emergency situations. To the side of the projection
room above, simultaneous translation rooms are encased in glass
to offer staff a full view of the screen and stage. The facilities
allow for conferences to be held in three languages -- one spoken
and two in translation.
conventional theatres, the Archive's
cinema is designed
to screen movies on 35 mm, 16 mm and 8 mm film. As such, the projection
room is much larger than at cinemas elsewhere in Hong Kong. To handle
high-definition video projection a Hughs JVC projector, with line
doublers and enhancers to offer the highest image quality, is installed
beneath the main projection room. The unit is set low to prevent
keystoning distortion and maintain image quality. Placed on a motorised
pantograph for ease of access, the projector sits in a sound-proof
and separately ventilated enclosure above the cinema entrance.
sound system handles mono, stereo and surround sound, as well as
all types of Dolby. A principal cinema sound system handles films
while a video sound system, using separate speakers, is also provided.
A separate public address system is included in the setup, as well
as the infra-red system for the hard-at-hearing and for translation
East Sports Centre
As with the Film Archive, main access to the leisure centre is from
Lei King Road. From the main entry, visitors can choose their destinations
in a range of leisure facilities for all ages. The complex is designed
to offer features commonly found in existing centres across Hong
Kong, but with the additional provision of recreation for the elderly
to suit the experience to the entire family.
family leisure centre is designed to suit people of all ages, from
very old to very young," explains Chan. "The intention
of this building is to design to suit all age groups. The concept
originates from England. Previously the indoor games halls have
been more oriented to younger age groups with facilities mainly
covering sports such as squash, basketball. But now the whole family
leisure centre concept is that the family can come and enjoy the
facility." The move to design such centres in Hong Kong, with
an Ap Lei Chau facility being the first of its type in 1998, takes
into account social change, adds Chan. "The Hong Kong population
is getting older and all facilities should cater to all people."
designers sought a welcoming indoor environment for family users.
"We tried to create some family character which is suitable
for the whole family to go to. We tried to make the scale and features
not too institutional-looking, including plenty of landscaping inside."
ground floor offers a reception area, a dance room and the fitness
room. Visitors seeking a dip in the indoor pool need only head up
the escalators to the first floor. On this level is both a spacious
leisure pool and a 25 metre training pool, as well as changing rooms
and toilet areas.
second floor with a cafeteria, pool management offices and a children's
play room overlooks
the pools. From here, resting family members, leisure centre staff
and children alike can cast their eyes across the pool area's
fittings, play equipment and murals.
third floor houses an indoor bowling green, similar to that installed
at Ap Lei Chau, planned with the leisure centre's
in mind. Also on the floor are multi-purpose and table tennis rooms.
indoor games hall occupies the fourth floor alongside an indoor
golf driving range. On the uppermost level, above the games hall's
are offices and a conference room for building administration purposes.
unique feature for a leisure centre project is the provision of
an underground carpark, with the entry and exit at the leisure centre's
ground floor. Approximately
100 spaces are provided for the public and users can take direct
elevators from the carpark into either the leisure centre or the
owner Leisure & Cultural
architect, structural engineer Architectural Services Department
consultant architect Hsin Yieh Architects & Associates
m & e engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff Architectural Services
quantity surveyor WT Partnership Architectural Services Department
completion contractor China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation
electrical installation, air-conditioning & cold room installation
Southa Technical Ltd
sport & water play installation Parks Supplies (HK) Ltd