Wuzhen Theatre by Kris Yao
and Artech Architects


Ornate wooden screens shroud one side of this theatre in Wuzhen, China, while the other side is shielded behind angular brickwork fins (+ slideshow).

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

"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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

The building was one of over 280 projects shortlisted for awards at this year's World Architecture Festival in Singapore, which took place last week. See all our coverage of WAF 2013 »

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

See more theatre design »
See more architecture in China »

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects

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.

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects
Plan- click for larger image

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

Wuzhen Theatre by Artech Architects
Section - click for larger image

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

  • míz

    That Andy Chang is one hell of a designer!

    • Sickwitit!

      I want Andy Chang to design my house! He must be from SCI-Arc!

    • Hl

      Haha! Indeed!

  • miy

    Viciously ugly interior.

  • Paul Allen

    From the outside it looks great, but I agree with Miy that the interior is disappointing to say the least.

  • Nathaniel

    It’s so, so refreshing to see some nice sympathetic architecture that isn’t high rise being built in China. I love how they haven’t built a road to it but will make people take boats. That should really help the local business and give tourists a better experience of the village.

    There’s some really thoughtful choices in this project and we need more of this kind of work in China before all the Chinese traditional architecture is completely gone and it becomes culturally irrelevant.