helsinki- and shanghai-based firm PES-architects has completed a multi-functional cultural center in fuzhou, china, one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world. in 2013, the fuzhou government hosted an international invited competition for the project with the goal of strengthening the cultural image of the city and its mawei new town development area. photographed by marc goodwin of archmospheres, the ‘fuzhou strait culture and art center’ takes inspiration from the petals of jasmine blossom — a floral symbol of the city. 

PES-architects fuzhou
all images by marc goodwin / archmospheres



each of the five ‘petals’ designed by PES-architects contains a different program: a 1,600-seat opera house; a 1,000-seat concert hall; a 700-seat a multi-functional theater; an exhibition gallery; and a cinema center. these venues are linked by a cultural concourse and a large roof terrace with public services and commercial and leisure facilities.

PES-architects fuzhou
the façades are entirely clad with ceramic elements



‘dividing the large complex into smaller units gives the center a more human scale and makes it easy for users to navigate both indoors and outdoors,’ explains pekka salminen, founder of PES-architects. ‘each building has a core area — a semi-public, curved gallery that follows the curvature of the main façade — that integrates the public interior space with the landscape of the jasmine gardens around the building and further with the mahangzhou island natural reserve in front of the center.’

PES-architects fuzhou
the rear side of the buildings are clad with 80x40cm large ceramic plate elements



the architects worked with taiwanese ceramic artist samuel hsuan-yu shih to design the interior for the two main auditoriums, with all façades clad with white ceramic tiles and louvers. the interior surfaces of the opera hall and concert hall are clad with two types of topographical ceramic panels: an engraved panel and a mosaic tile panel. both are adaptable to the topographical surfaces that are required to achieve high quality acoustics, as well as the visual language of the design.

PES-architects fuzhou
the main entrance concourse lobby is an open space to be used for cultural activities



meanwhile, the multipurpose hall is designed for a 700 seat audience. the walls are clad with solid CNC-cut bamboo blocks, shaped according to acoustic needs. the roof is equipped with a flexible cable net ceiling to enable a flexible usage of lighting and other technical equipment.

PES-architects fuzhou
the sunlight entering the curved galleries is cut by the exterior ceramic louvers

PES-architects fuzhou
the opera hall is designed for a 1,600-seat audience

PES-architects fuzhou
the ceramic tile surfaces in the opera hall are combined with solid bamboo parts

PES-architects fuzhou
the concert hall can host audiences up to 1,000

PES-architects fuzhou
the pattern of the ceramic tiles in the concert hall is a result of a complex acoustic script

PES-architects fuzhou
the walls of the multipurpose hall are clad with solid CNC-cut bamboo blocks

PES-architects fuzhou
the main stalls seating area is retractable to enable a standing audience



project info:


client: fuzhou new town development investment group co., ltd.
location: mawei new town, fuzhou, china
design began: 2014
construction began: 2015
opening ceremony: october 2018
area: gross area 153,000 sqm
program: opera house (1,600 seats), concert hall (1,000 seats), multi-functional theatre (700 seats), art exhibition hall, cinema centre
height: 62 meters
principal materials: steel, concrete, bamboo and custom-developed ceramic


PES-architects team:
lead architects and designers: pekka salminen (chief designer), martin lukasczyk (project architect), samuel
hsuan-yu shih (ceramic artist), lai linli (project manager)
main design team:
li wei (project coordinator), guang xiaojing (project manager), yizhou zhao, masahide nakane, matti kankkunen, anna blomqvist, clara juan, uros kostic, antonio barquinha, martin genet, dou jian
local architect: xu zhongwu, CCEDGC co. ltd.


photography: marc goodwin / archmospheres