By Wendy Gan
In the summer of 2012, the School of English will be making its move to the new centennial campus. Planning for the new Faculty of Arts building began as far back as 2007 and the Faculty committee, helmed by Dr. Greg Thomas of Fine Arts, has been working steadily over these years to ensure that we are all provided with the space and the facilities that we have always wanted. Though for many of us, leaving the Main Building with its gracious courtyards, its history and the charm of its period detailing will be a wrench, the move to the new campus will undoubtedly bring us the space we need to grow and much-improved facilities.
The new Faculty building is not elaborate in design but it will boast double-height sky gardens on the staircases on each side of the building. These I think will prove popular with students and staff in need of a moment of quiet and perhaps inspiration. The School of English will be spread over two floors, sharing each floor with the School of Chinese. One of the immediate benefits of the move will be the increase in the number of staff offices we have, which will enable us to house our floating population of visiting professors and postdoctoral fellows more comfortably. Our postgraduates will no longer be scattered across the campus in small, make-shift offices but will have their own postgraduate study room, complete with a meeting room and a small lounge and pantry. This, we are confident, will foster a greater sense of community and belonging amongst them. There will be a dedicated creative writing room for intimate readings from resident and visiting creative writers. The room too will be for the use of our creative writing students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, to linger and mingle with one another. We will also have space for an editorial office that will enable us to consider expanding the journals we host and publish, such as Yuan Yang, our creative writing journal and, in the past, Critical Zone, a joint effort between Nanjing University, the celebrated US-based journal boundary 2 and ourselves.
In particular, there are two spaces that we will be looking forward to immensely in our new premises. The first is our seminar room. Situated at the corner of the building with windows on two sides, it promises to be light-filled space with views overlooking the new campus and hopefully, we will also be able to catch a sliver of the sea. The second space is a much eagerly awaited for drama studio. One of the clear benefits of this move to the centennial campus will be that, for the first time in a long while, we will have the use of a small but custom-built black box theatre in the lower ground floor of the Arts Faculty building. The architects, working in consultation with Dr. Page Richards, have designed a classroom that can convert into a drama studio with special hydrolic stage panels to create varied acting spaces and a catwalk installed above for professional lighting. We are anticipating that the tradition of HKU English drama performances will be revived very soon and we will hope to see some of you at these performances to come. It will indeed be a fitting way to welcome the spirit of the old Department of English into its new home.
More information on the new campus here: http://www3.hku.hk/cecampus/eng/index.php
Dr Wendy Gan is Associate Professor in the School of English. She is the School’s representative on the Faculty Committee for the new campus accommodation.