Architect: Kris Yao | Artech Architects Location: Zhejiang, China Clients: Wuzhen Tourism Development Co., Ltd Design Team: Taipei: Kuo-Chien Shen, Winnie Wang, Wen-Li Liu, Jake Sun, Andy Chang, Kevin Lin, Shanghai: Wen-Hong Chu, Fei-Chun Ying, Nai-Wen Cheng, Chu-Yi Hsu, Qi-Shen Wu, Jane jiang, Lei Feng Architect of Record: Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design & Research Co. Ltd Total Floor Area: 21,750 sqm Photographs: Courtesy of Artech Architects
Foreword Like a twin lotus, the theatres rise from the water in this dream-like town….. Grand Theater In this romantic and surreal water village in China, the owner of the development decided that Wuzhen would be an important name in the global atlas of theater where an international theater festival would be located. In order to complete his vision, Kris Yao and his team was asked to design the Wuzhen Grand Theater.
The greatest challenge was to design a large building containing two theaters with 1200 and 600 seats back to back, with modern theater functions in this small, traditional water village in southern China. Using the culturally auspicious “twin lotus” as its metaphor, which functions perfectly with two theatres sharing one stage area, the design is composed of two oval shapes interlocking one another, one of them transparent and the opaque in form.
Due to its dual purposes of the theater festival and tourism, the functions of the theaters are multifold. Possibilities include formal stage performances, avant-garde creations, fashion shows, conventions and wedding ceremonies. Visitors arrive at the theaters by wooden boats or on foot from an island across the bridge. 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. Other Theaters Old Theater A classic courtyard theater retrofitted to adapt for modern performances, by adding a light weight timber structure into the existing courtyard and renovate the parterre section. The stage is restructured to be a two-way stage: the audience can either enjoy the performance from the auditorium or from the boat on the opposite side.
Water Theater An existing water amphitheater redesigned, where the audience arrives to by boat to this magnificent romantic setting. Sail-like tent structure provides sun-shading for the seating area; and the stage can be flexibly arranged to fit various configurations.