For the past several years, China has been building a collection of some of the world’s most impressive concert halls and theatres. One of my favorites so far is Zaha Hadid’s incredible new opera house in Guangzhou, China which I profiled back in March 2011 (you can see all the pics by CLICKING HERE). And now the latest beauty added to the list is the Wuxi Grand Theatre located in Wuxi, China roughly 1000km northeast of Hong Kong.
The building’s design concept is a collaboration between Chinese and Finnish architects, overseen by the team at PES Architects. The design’s narrative tells the story of a Chinese butterfly descending on the edge of an icy lake, with enormous roof wings elevated by giant steel truss columns bringing the story to architectural life. The huge wings protect those inside from the direct sunlight, and inside those steel wings are thousands of LED lights which adjust in color according to the performances taking place within.
Each of the world’s cutting edge theatres provide a perfect laboratory for experimenting with the still-unfolding and elusive science of acoustical engineering, and inside Wuxi’s main hall the architects took advantage of new methods of bamboo production to create a state-of-the-art ceiling to absorb and deflect sound waves unlike any other building in the world (even the greatest acoustics expert in the world equipped with high tech acoustic modelling software can never be 100% certain how the final space will sound until the last panel and screw is in place — which is why it’s now standard practice for acoustic environments of this scale to be adjustable, much like fine-tuning a massive piano).
Design hints of ice and lakes are dotted throughout the theatre, most notably the 20,000 specially-designed glass bricks which wrap the curved wall of the opera auditorium inside the lakeside lobby. Photos courtesy of Jussi Tiainen, Pan Weijun, Kari Palsila, Martin Lukasczyk.