Designed by Taiwanese architect Kris Yao of Artech Architects, the shape of the building was modelled on the rare twin lotus flower - an anomaly where two flower heads sprout from a single stalk - to create a pair of oval-shaped auditoriums that share a single stage area.
"The greatest challenge was to design a large building containing two theatres in this small village," said the architects, explaining their decision to overlap the 600- and 1200-seat auditoriums.
Wuzhou, nicknamed Venice of the East, is a village where canals take the place of streets. Visitors can either arrive at the building by boat, or approach on foot across a bridge.
Zig-zagging wooden screens fold around the glazed exterior of the largest auditorium, allowing light to permeate the building. At night, this facade glows to create a bright beacon reflected in the surrounding waters.
The smaller auditorium is surrounded by overlapping fin-like walls, which were built from a traditional grey-blue brick and have slivers of glazing tucked between them.
The Wuzhen Theatre is intended as the venue for an international theatre festival, but could also be used for fashion shows, music performances or as a wedding centre.
Other theatres we've featured from China include a Shanghai building resembling a cluster of duck feet and the Guangzhou Opera House by Zaha Hadid.
Here's a project description from Artech Architects:
Like a twin lotus, the theatres rise from the water in this dream-like town...
In this romantic and surreal water village in China, the owner of the development decided that Wuzhen would be an important name in the global atlas of theatre where an International Theatre Festival would be located. In order to complete his vision, Kris Yao and his team was asked to design the Wuzhen Grand Theatre.
The greatest challenge was to design a large building containing two theatres with 1200 and 600 seats back to back, with modern theatre functions in this small, traditional water village in southern China. Using the culturally auspicious "twin lotus" as its metaphor, which functions perfectly with two theatres sharing one stage area, the design is composed of two oval shapes interlocking one another, one of them transparent and the opaque in form.
Due to its dual purposes of the theatre festival and tourism, the functions of the theatres are multifold. Possibilities include formal stage performances, avant-garde creations, fashion shows, conventions and wedding ceremonies.
Visitors arrive at the theatres by wooden boats or on foot from an island across the bridge. The smaller theatre to the right is located within the 'solid' volume, where pedal-like segments of thick reclining walls, clad in ancient super-sized brick, wrap around the foyer. The grand theatre to the left, enclosed in the zigzag fan-shaped glass front with a Chinese window motif, glows in the evenings and reflects on the water, adding charm to the already misty and surreal atmosphere of this otherworldly water village.
Project: Wuzhen Theatre
Location: Zhejiang, China
Clients: Wuzhen Tourism Development Co., Ltd
Design Architect: Kris Yao, Artech Architects
Design Team - Taipei: Kuo-Chien Shen, Winnie Wang, Wen-Li Liu, Jake Sun, Andy Chang, Kevin Lin
Design Team - Shanghai: Wen-Hong Chu, Fei-Chun Ying, Nai-Wen Cheng, Chu-Yi Hsu, Qi-Shen Wu, Jane jiang,
Collaborative design institute: Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design & Research Co. Ltd
Theatre consultants: Theatre Projects Consultants Ltd
Façade consultants: maRco Skin Studio
Acoustic consultants: Shen Milsom &Wilke Ltd
Contractor: Jujiang Construction Group
Building structure: reinforced concrete, steel framing
Materials: blue bricks, glass curtain wall, wood grilles
Floor Levels: 2 floors above ground, 1 floor below ground
Building Use: theatre
Site Area: 54,980 sqm
Lot Coverage Area: 6,920 sqm
Total Floor Area: 21,750 sqm