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  7. Jian Li Ju Theatre / More Design Office

Jian Li Ju Theatre / More Design Office

  • 18:00 - 6 March, 2018
  • Curated by 韩爽 - HAN Shuang
Jian Li Ju Theatre / More Design Office
Jian Li Ju Theatre / More Design Office, © Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

© Dirk Weiblen © Dirk Weiblen © Dirk Weiblen © Dirk Weiblen + 16

  • Interior designers

    More Design Office
  • Location

    B1, No. 301 East Hongsong Road, Minhang District, Shanghai, China
  • Category

  • Architect in Charge

    Jaycee Chui, Justin Bridgland
  • Client

    Jianliju Theatre Company
  • Signage

    Evelyn Chiu
  • Area

    930.0 m2
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

© Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

Text description provided by the architects. The Jianliju theatre company, in an interesting examination of typology, offers a unique spectator experience where the audience plays an integral part of their performances and productions, as such the brief for their new premises in Shanghai demands a careful architectural approach to the relationships between space, event and movement. MDO, the architects selected to take on this mantle, have addressed these conditions with a deliberate and exaggerated exploration of form, lighting and circulation. The practice has taken the cinematic expression of film noir and applied its heightened sense of drama to the atmosphere within to create a sequence of contrasting spaces that read as a montage of screenshots from a film reel.

© Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

With work of this nature, the architectural theory of Tschumi, especially the 1976 Screenplays project, is never far away and many of the formal strategies employed by MDO directly reference the parallels with screen editing and the time-space nature of architecture. Tools such as distortion, repetition and superimposition often used by the great directors of the film noir scene have all been applied as a method to soak the interior with all the atmosphere of a 50s Hollywood melodrama.

Folded Plan
Folded Plan

The theatre is accessed off a non-descript side-street in central Shanghai, the entrance door hidden at the back of an antique furniture emporium. Visitors arrive only with a time, location and number. From the door, a stair leads down into the darkness and from there the circulation seeks to create a sense of departure from the world outside, a deliberate act of disorientation initiated by a dark curved corridor that emphasizes low-key lighting and unbalanced compositions leads to the spaces inside. The functions are organized into a linear arrangement of spaces, where the visitor is prevented from going backwards, as if following an unknown figure through the street at night.

© Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

The palette is simple throughout, monotone, minimal with a hint at texture through the treatment of the plaster to give a lustre and depth to the spaces.  In contrast to the threshold sequence, the first space, the lobby, is bright and lined with acoustic paneling on the walls and benches creating a closed and soft environment, a moment of respite before the performance begins and the drama is further heightened.

© Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

When it is time, each participant in the production enters a small changing space, highlighted by an eerie number projected from a pinhole aperture on to the dark corridor floor. Here in a space reminiscent of a Lynch production set complete with heavy velvet curtains, they are provided with a script and transform into character.

© Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

They emerge from a costume change into a small anti-chamber where the four enclosing walls are asymmetrical, an unsettling space where the main focus is on a number displayed through a magnifying glass giving stage directions to the participating actors waiting in anticipation.

© Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

After the show concludes the sequence finishes with a hall of mirrors, one final nod to the film reel and the cinematic traditions that their design engages with. Given this final space is predominantly used for photographs and selfies, their last note is intentionally witty, a critical reflection perhaps on the ambiguous relationship between actor and audience that their architecture has curated throughout. 

© Dirk Weiblen
© Dirk Weiblen

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Project location

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Jian Li Ju Theatre / More Design Office" 06 Mar 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
© Dirk Weiblen

上海间离剧 / 木君建筑设计

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