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OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences

over the past decade, as china’s economic boom and rapid urbanization continues, theaters have sprung up throughout the country — most with extravagant exteriors, but often spatially monotonous and detached from the general public and everyday urban life. after winning a competition to design the first theater in pingshan, a new district in the municipality of shenzhen, OPEN had the opportunity to take a critical look at the past development of theaters in china, and to explore new possibilities for the future.

open drama box
image by zeng tianpei

 

 

while the original brief only called for a grand theater, support from the client allowed OPEN to include performing-arts-related educational and social programs, a restaurant, café, public promenade, and a series of gardens accessible to all. in breaking away from the mono-function cultural landmark typology, OPEN designed the ‘pingshan performing arts center’ as a new example of social inclusivity for civic buildings. serving as a new cultural hub, it also provides the non-theater-going public with an unusual urban space.

open drama box
image by zeng tianpei

 

 

conceived as a ‘drama box’, the project was designed to be cubical in form and rich in spatial experiences. at its heart is a volume comprising a 1,200-seat grand theater entirely wrapped in dark-red-toned wood panels, visible both from inside the building and on the roof. flanking the grand theater is a variety of smaller functional spaces accessible both by a separate circulation system inside the building and through an outdoor meandering public promenade, which can be used by the public even when the grand theater is closed. further blurring the boundary between building and city, the promenade links together a café, a black box theater, teaching spaces, rehearsal rooms, an informal outdoor theater, and outdoor gardens on varying levels. this interweaving of architecture and nature gradually reveals surprises and colors to visitors who stroll the promenade’s length.

open drama box
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

 

 

within and around the porous venue, the introduction of vegetation in outdoor gardens on different levels creates a comfortable environment for the public. the planted roof also greatly reduces the heat load of the building. the façade is a direct response to the local climate, with the outer skin made of precision-engineered perforated aluminum V sections, both protecting the building from sub-tropical sun exposure and enhancing natural ventilation.

open drama box
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

 

 

the performing arts center brings together a series of seemingly opposite elements: the formal and the informal, the elite and the mass, the traditional and the experimental; resulting in rich and exciting experiences both spatially and functionally.

open drama box
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by zeng tianpei

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by zeng tianpei

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

drama-box-OPEN-pingshan-performing-arts-center-shenzhen-china-designboom-09X

image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by zeng tianpei

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by zeng tianpei

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by zeng tianpei

OPEN designs performing arts center in shenzhen as a 'drama box' with rich spatial experiences
image by zeng tianpei

 

 

project facts:

 

design year: 2013-2019
status: built
client: pingshan dist. government, shenzhen
project management: china merchants property development co. ltd
program: 1200-seat theater, 260-seat black box theater, dance studio, instrument and choral rehearsal rooms, café and restaurant
building area: 23,542 sqm
site area: 14,302 sqm
location: shenzhen, china

 

 

project credits:

 

architects: OPEN architecture
principals in charge: li hu, huang wenjing
project team: ye qing (project architect), zhou tingting (project architect), zhang hanyang, han ruyi, xing shu, luo ren, andrea antonucci, sun xinying, zhang chang, jia han, sabrina wu, zhang hao, cynthia yurou cui, angela nodari
local design institute: shenzhen aube engineering design consultant co., ltd
curtain wall consultant: schmidlin façade consultancy
theater consultant: JH theatre architecture design consulting company
stage equipment consultant: zhejiang dafeng architecture and decoration co., ltd
lighting consultant: united artists lighting design consultants

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