CLIENT: Wuxi Culture and Art Administration Center
LOCATION: Wuxi, China
The first large-scale example of Finnish design in China was completed by the opening of the Wuxi Grand Theatre in April 2012. The project was the winning entry in an invited architectural competition in 2008. Not only the architecture but the overall design – from the functional programme to interior design, landscape design, theatre technology, lighting and acoustic design – was managed by PES-Architects’ team.
The main auditorium, with seating for 1,680, provides a venue for Chinese and western opera, dance performances and symphony concerts. It was also designed for the performance of Wuxi opera, a special form of traditional Chinese music theatre. The design of the gold leaf coated ceiling reflector was inspired by the patterns of a Beijing opera mask.
The small auditorium, seating 700, functions as a concert hall for chamber music and serves as a multifunctional space for theatre and other performances and events.
A strong Chinese feature that runs throughout the whole building is the large-scale use of bamboo, simultaneously a traditional and modern Chinese material. New methods for the production of bamboo made it possible to clad the opera auditorium walls with 17,000 solid bamboo blocks, all individually shaped according to acoustic needs and the architectural image.
The entrance lobby between the two auditoriums is a high, light-filled space opening towards Lihu Lake and the city. The leaf-like pillars supporting the ceiling are a continuation of the tall light columns that lead the way from the driveway up the stairs and into the building.
The main foyer is bordered by the curving, bamboo panel-clad galleries that encircle the main auditorium. The outer auditorium walls are clad with specially designed glass bricks; their undulating surface is reminiscent of ice and the shimmering water of Finnish lakes.