LocationWeinan, Shaanxi Province, China
Principal in ChargeZHUANG Weimin
Design TeamZHUANG Weimin, ZHANG Wei, GAO Guocheng, LIANG Sisi, KANG Liqiao, PAN Anping, LIU Yichuan, LUO Xinyu, MI Zhong, GAO Guisheng, XU Hua, LI Shuqin, et al.
Site Area40000 m2
ClientWeinan Municipal Bureau of Culture
Total Floor Area33942 m2
Time of Completion2014.8
Text description provided by the architects. Identifying the Problems
The construction of large and medium-sized theaters in second- and third-tier Chinese cities has been in full swing since the beginning of the new century. However, such theaters have faced various problems regarding their operation and maintenance. Our survey of nearly twenty cases has been conducted and the results can be summed up as follows:
- Such theaters cannot sustain normal operation because of ill-chosen business orientation, excessively high operation costs, the shortage of programs, and low consumer demand.
- They cannot afford the cost of electricity due to the heavy energy consumption by the buildings, especially the glass curtain walls. If there is a central hall leading to multiple theatres, all the air conditioners will have to be switched on for a single performance in any of those theatres.
- They cannot make money. Due to institutional constraints, the investment only covered the theater itself, to the exclusion of commercial facilities and space for the development of cultural creativity industries.
- They cannot attract large audiences. Some of these theaters are located in new urban districts where they lack support from neighboring communities.
Due to these problems, some of the urban theaters can stage only a couple of performances each year. Instead of functioning as the “cultural parlor” of the cities, they have become financial liabilities for the local governments.
Solving the Problems
Together with the Cultural Bureau, we have devised the following strategy to be carried out during architectural programming for Weinan, a third-tier city:
- Introduce a Shaanxi opera company, which will develop a repertoire and be incorporated into the theater. Highlight original intellectual property with regional characteristics-while meeting the need for theater chain performances.
- Do away with a central hall leading to multiple theatres. The exterior should mainly be built with stones and bricks, with reduced application of glass curtain walls.
- There shall be a 10,000-m2 commercial facility for support to art and culture. The small theater will have no fixed seats and can thus be easily rented for business meetings or parties.
- Activities by the inhabitants of the neighboring communities will be taken into consideration. There will be an outdoor stage to the north of the small theater so that the professional backstage can be shared with amateur performers. There will be central waterscape that is attractive to parents and children. There will also be washrooms/locker rooms for outdoor activities beneath the sloping landscape.
In the absence of a central hall leading to multiple rooms, the project will be in the form of an art cluster composed of three buildings. Highlighting local features, the asymmetrical layout serves to mitigate the rigidity of the main axis of the central administrative area and enhance the sense of a building cluster. Shaanxi opera features a sonorous tune and intense passion. Based on such cultural attribute, the buildings are different deformations of stylistic box, contrasting with each other yet remaining consistency. The three buildings face different directions and converse with each other, as it were, producing a sense of place.
The materials for the exteriors of the three buildings are traditional local gray bricks, stones, and glass curtain walls respectively. A textural contrast is highlighted between the brick walls, which are built into an undulating texture, and the glass curtain walls, which have gaps between the plates that can form gray space for reducing energy consumption. The vertical surfaces of the gray bricks have 2-cm, 6-cm and 10-cm projections, whose chiaroscuro can enliven the whole building. The oblique lines of the section steel are actually designed to echo with the texture of the large green space in the cultural and administrative center area; they extend from the walls to blend with the ground, forming a homogeneous relationship with the landscape. The window hoods on the southern wall are shaped into multiple corbel steps in an ode to the traditional architecture of Guanzhong. On the neatly-shaped site, a special ambience is created by the irregular design of the landscape and the pool as well as the diversity of architectural forms and surface textures.