guangzhou theatre by steven chilton architects pays homage to the city's silk heritage

guangzhou theatre by steven chilton architects pays homage to the city's silk heritage

steven chilton architects (SCA) has completed a 2,000 seat theater in the huadu district of guangzhou, china ahead of its opening in 2021. guangzhou has been a significant center for the arts and trading since the han dynasty and, inspired by the city’s traditional and contemporary artists, the concept for the theater was informed by silk embroidery and the illustrations of artist zhang hongfei. ‘guangzhou has been the home of and inspiration for artists who have helped to define the worlds concept of chinese culture for thousands of years,’ says steven chilton. ‘through our work on the theater, we have endeavored to channel the history, emotion and creative energy of the city through a building whose purpose is to nurture the next generation of cultural leaders in the performing arts.’

steven chilton guangzhou
all images by chong‐art photography

 

 

silk has been painted and embroidered by fine artists in guangzhou for thousands of years and developed as a creative medium for depicting myths and scenes of nature on tapestries and ornamental robes. SCA explains that the physicality of silk cloth informed the formal expression of the building through a series of ten, gently twisting folds that define the outer envelope. meanwhile, the various entrances into the building are created by ‘tucking’ the surface in on itself where the valley of each fold would meet the ground plane.

steven chilton guangzhou

 

 

the theater’s mission to cultivate talent is expressed through the imagery applied to the surface of the cladding. ‘we were influenced by a beloved local myth, ‘100 birds paying homage to the phoenix’,’ chilton explains. ‘the phoenix or ‘fenghuang’ stands for virtue and grace, whilst the allegory signifies notions of recognition, leadership and mentoring.’ using illustrations created by artist zhang hongfei, SCA digitized and interpreted his hand drawings before mapping each figure onto the surface geometry.

steven chilton guangzhou

 

 

‘we developed a compositional style inspired by tattoo art aesthetics,’ the architects continue. ‘each figure was positioned on the ‘body’ of the theater over a series of studies in response to the topology of the surface geometry. whilst significant figures like the phoenix were positioned where the form afforded prominence, lesser figures such as birds, were organically and less consciously arranged in the spaces between.’ the cladding is composed of thousands of perforated aluminum panels, each painted with a unique portion of the overall composition. the panels are supported by a complex structure of welded steel tubes that work interdependently with the concrete superstructure supporting the theater floors.

steven chilton guangzhou

 

 

the concept design of the auditorium was led by dragone with theater consultant auerbach pollock friedlander. the space is a performance environment that can be transformed from a 360 degree theater into a variety of different configurations. overhead LED screens provide an immersive experience, while 12 acrobatic hoists and three acrobatic tracks and trolleys are integrated above the stage. meanwhile, above the audience, at the gridiron, there are two storage wagons that allow scenic elements to be lowered on custom built hoists.

steven chilton guangzhou

 

 

while the theater can be used for typical productions, it can also be transformed for productions that require water effects. below the center of the theater’s stage floor is a deep pool with an automated stage lift that can be raised a half meter above the stage floor or dropped nine meters into the water. at this lower elevation there are three under water scenery storage garages that are used to store large props and scenic elements before they are moved onto the lift and elevated through the water to stage level. the ‘sunac guangzhou grand theatre’ is scheduled to open in 2021.

steven chilton guangzhou

steven-chilton-sunac-guangzhou-grand-theatre-china-designboom-1800b

guangzhou theatre by steven chilton architects pays homage to the city's silk heritage

guangzhou theatre by steven chilton architects pays homage to the city's silk heritage

guangzhou theatre by steven chilton architects pays homage to the city's silk heritage

guangzhou theatre by steven chilton architects pays homage to the city's silk heritage

guangzhou theatre by steven chilton architects pays homage to the city's silk heritage

 

 

project info:

 

name: sunac guangzhou grand theatre
location: guangzhou, china
client: sunac china holdings ltd.
architect: SCA | steven chilton architects
SCA project team: steven chilton, roberto monesi, chuck wang, paula isabella saavedra rosas, david rieser, natalie dillon
architecture and design management: sunac china holdings ltd.
auditorium concept designer and technical consultant: dragone
theatre consultant: auerbach pollock friedlander
local design institute: beijing institute of architectural design
concept engineer: buro happold
artist: zhang hongfei
photography: chong‐art photography
copyright: SCA | steven chilton architects 2020

  • The theatre is both beautiful & fits the James Wines term… a “turd-in-the-park.”
    It lands on a masonry platform with little thinking about human scale & a diminutive attempt at landscape.

    Chris Kellogg
    Dec 19, 2020

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