A tropical opera house for hainan island


Heatherwick Studio presents its vibrant performing arts center, designed for the island landscape of Hainan, China. The large island is located along the country’s southernmost point, and is defined by its tropical climate and mountainous landscape. The winning competition entry will stand as the studio’s first opera house and music venue, and will host three performance spaces. These include the opera house, a concert hall, and a theater, all together enclosed beneath an undulating canopy which references the rolling topography of the island.


The new performing arts center will have capacity for 3,800 people, and will stage international productions that range from large-scale opera, ballet and musicals, to avant-garde drama, fashion and immersive multimedia performances.

heatherwick hainanimages courtesy of Heatherwick Studio | @officialheatherwickstudio



the curving canopy by heatherwick studio


With the design of its Hainan Performing Arts Center, the team at Heatherwick Studio (see more here) took inspiration from the island’s volcanic landscape and the dynamic colors and movements of the Hainanese Opera. Planned as a single, fluid surface, the undulating structure was developed with both physical modelling and immersive digital processes.


The architecture is sculpted to respond to the climate of the site, reducing energy consumption and costs to passively cool the interiors for the occupants of the opera house. The team notes that construction of the main building is scheduled to begin towards the end of 2022.

heatherwick hainanthe opera house will be enclosed with a dynamic canopy structure



the design of the Performing arts center


Eliot Postma, Partner and Group Leader at Heatherwick Studio comments on the spirit of the Hainan opera house proposal: ‘Many opera houses are cut off from their surroundings and only come to life when a performance is on. We wanted to create a space that is an extension of the city and will contribute to life on the street throughout the day.


So the canopy shelters a mix of different spaces that form an open-air village, of which the halls are a part. It blends the formality of performance with the informality of island culture, making opera more accessible and offering everyone a space to meet whether you have a ticket or not.’

heatherwick hainan
luminous interiors will be cooled with passive climate stratiegies

heatherwick studio unveils vibrant opera house for china's tropical island of hainanthe rolling form mimics the volcanic landscape of Hainan



project info:


project title: Hainan Opera House

architecture: Heatherwick Studio | @officialheatherwickstudio

location: Hainan, China

competition organizer: Haikou Tourism & Culture Investment Holding Group

status: construction expected to begin end of 2022