The Wuzhen Grand Theater is located in a water village in Zhejiang, China and it was designed as the host of an international theater festival by the architectural practice of Kris Yao.
The shape of the theater is inspired by that of a twin-lotus flower and features two theatres built back to back and sharing a common stage area; the two interlocking oval shapes have capacities of 1200 and 600 people, and exhibit different styles both in terms of interior design and of seating alignment – catering to the needs of different types of events or plays.
One of the ovals is transparent, while the other is opaque, enabling them to complement each other sublimely. This in turn provides for toying around with light and creating a particular type of atmosphere.
The theater can be accessed by the audience either by wooden boats or by foot, passing across a bridge. Being surrounded by water, the construction also allows for viewing the plays from a covered outdoors foyer or from boats.
The unique structure of the Wuzhen Theater exhibits great flexibility in terms of ways of access and exit, audience perspective and so forth.
The smaller theater to the right is located within the “solid’ volume, where pedal-like segments of thick reclining walls, clad in ancient super-sized brick, wrap around the foyer.
The grand theater to the left, enclosed in the zigzag fan-shaped glass front with a Chinese window motif, glows in the evenings and reflects on the water, adding charm to the already misty and surreal atmosphere of this otherworldly water village.
The south side building mass is floating on top of the water surface to form a “lotus blossom” image and to echo with the watery region scene. The building layout takes “two lotus flowers on one stalk” as the concept to spatially combine the two oval shape theater spaces.
The interlocking area of the two becomes the common backstage and produces the “locking in forms, linkage in heart” spatial layout.
The exterior is also designed to host outdoor shows so that the courtyard has been transformed into a setting for modern performances with a light timber structure and the audience can sit either in the auditorium, in a redesigned water amphitheater or even enjoy the show from boats.
Location: Zhejiang, China
Architects: Artech Architects
Design Architect: Kris Yao
Project Team: Kuo-Chien Shen, Winnie Wang, Wen-Li Liu, Jake Sun, Andy Chang, Kevin Lin, Wen-Hong Chu, Fei-Chun Ying, Nai-Wen Cheng, Chu-Yi Hsu, Qi-Shen Wu, Jane jiang, Lei Feng
Contractor: Jujiang Construction Group
Area: 21750.0 sqm
Client: Wuzhen Tourism Development
Photographs: David Chen, Fei-Chung Ying