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Aerial visual of Yichang Grand Theatre

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.

Yichang Grand Theatre by Open Architecture
Open Architecture has designed the Yichang Grand Theatre

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".

Render of amorphous building in China by Open Architecture
The surface of the building is covered in aluminium tubes

"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.

Exterior render of Yichang Grand Theatre by Open Architecture
Its amorphous form is intended to resemble the movement of water

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.

Outdoor space beside public building by Open Architecture
The building will be elevated to open up space for outdoor 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.

The visuals are courtesy of Open Architecture.

Project credits:

Principals in charge: Li Hu, Huang Wenjing
Project Team: Liu Xiaoyang, Shou Chengbin, Cao Mengxing, Zhou Zilin, Liu Xuanyu, Xu Jiayue, Chen Yichao, Tao Weijie, Jia Han, Wang Qirui
Theater Consultant: dUCKS scéno
Structure Engineer: Guy Nordenson and Associates
MEP Engineer: LINK Engineering Consultant
Sustainability and Climate Engineering Consultant: Arup
Façade Consultant: RFR
Acoustic Consultant: JH Theater Architecture Design Consulting Company

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