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ISSUE 66(FREE READ)

Open Architecture models Chinese theatre on “ever-changing body of water”

Chinese studio Open Architecture has revealed the visuals for Yichang Grand Theatre in China, which will have an amorphous form intended to evoke flowing water.

The 70,000 square-meter theatre will be located at the Pinghu Peninsula in Hubei Province, at a site where the Yangtze River meets the Huangbai River tributary.Open Architecture’s proposal comprises a 1,600-seat grand theatre, a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 400-seat black box and two outdoor theatres. It will also house educational facilities, event and exhibition spaces, rehearsal rooms, coffee shops, restaurants and observation decks.

The Beijing studio described the architecture as “an ever-changing body of water”.
“The design of the grand theatre draws inspiration from the spirit of water that defines the city of Yichang,” said founding partner Li Hu. “Water may seem soft yet it can have infinite strength.”

Yichang Grand Theatre’s curved exterior will be covered in anodized aluminium tubes that reflect light during the day to emulate liquid metal. It will be punctured by various openings that connect indoor activities to the natural environment outside.
Facing inland, a large semi-outdoor garden and cascading terraced gardens will be created to help regulate the building’s microclimate.

On the river-facing side, voids on the facade will be used to naturally ventilate the lobby.
In response to the natural conditions surrounding the site, Open Architecture has reduced Yichang Grand Theatre’s footprint and excavation work by elevating its main functional spaces within a partially floating structure.

Native vegetation will grow on the resulting free land below the building, which also provides access to outdoor public activities.
“This is a very rare opportunity that allows us to repair and restore the previously human-damaged site through new construction, and reestablish a balanced, sustainable relationship between nature and the built environment,” said Open Architecture’s founding partner Huang Wenjing.

The theatre on the ground level, the rooftop outdoor theatre and the observation deck on top of the building are all connected via an ascending public walkway, which allows plenty of viewing points accessible to all.

Elsewhere in China, Group of Architects recently completed a mono-pitched theatre in a bamboo forest and Trace Architecture Office completed a stone amphitheatre in Aranya.


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