MAD conceives the yiwu grand theater as a boat floating on the water

MAD conceives the yiwu grand theater as a boat floating on the water

in 2018, yiwu, a city in china’s zhejiang province, hosted an international competition to design the ‘yiwu grand theater’. the contest was part of an effort by the city to elevate itself from a successful center of trade, to a hub of culture. the competition’s finalists included arata isozaki, christian de portzamparc, GMP, and KDG, however it was MAD architects, led by ma yansong, who came out on top. it has now been announced that MAD’s theater design will be realized on yiwu’s dongyang river.

mad architects yiwu grand theater
all images courtesy of MAD architects



with the region’s mountains as its backdrop, and the water as its stage, MAD’s design appears as a boat floating on the river. layers of glass sails, reminiscent of the chinese junk ships that once transported goods across the waters, wrap around the building as a protective canopy. while their subtle curves echo the jiangnan-style eaves of the ancient vernacular architecture that is typical of the region. meanwhile, the transparency and lightness of the material express the texture of thin, silky fabric, creating a dynamic rhythm that makes them appear as if they are blowing in the wind.

mad architects yiwu grand theater



accessible from all directions, the theater is connected to land with tree-lined pedestrian foot bridges. furthermore, the scheme features an amphitheater and large open plaza that extends into the water on its southern edge. elsewhere, landscaped terraces offer elevated views of the site’s surroundings, and areas of quiet contemplation: a natural experience in the urban context. internally, the design accommodates a 1,600-seat grand theater, a 1,200-seat medium theater, and an international conference center that can host up to 2,000 people.

mad architects yiwu grand theater



to reduce overall energy consumption, MAD has conceived the theater with a passive solar design. the semi-transparent glass curtain wall has been developed to not only act as a shading system, but to also optimize the use of natural light within the indoor public spaces, forming a solar greenhouse effect in the winter. meanwhile, in the summer, it serves as the ventilation system, enhancing airflow circulation inside and outside of the building.
 construction on the ‘yiwu grand theater’ is expected to begin in 2020.

mad architects yiwu grand theater

mad architects yiwu grand theater

mad architects yiwu grand theater

mad architects yiwu grand theater



project info:


name: yiwu grand theater

location: yiwu, china

site area: 47,000 square meters
building area: 95,290 square meters (ground: 48,942 square meters; underground: 46,348 square meters) 

clients: administration committee of silk road new district of yiwu; 
culture, broadcasting & television, tourism and sports bureau of yiwu
; yiwu city construction investment group limited


MAD architects
principal partners in charge: ma yansong, dang qun, yosuke hayano
associate partners in charge: fu changrui, liu huiying
design team: zhu yuhao, zheng chengwen, kazushi miyamoto, shang li, ma yin, jordan demer, guo wenjia, zhu zixiao

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