MAD Architects have revealed the design of a new theater made of glass sails in Yiwu, China. Located on the south bank of the Dongyang River, the ‘Yiwu Grand Theater’ encompasses a 1600 seat grand theater, medium theater, and international conference center. The project's protective canopy was made to resonate with the river and use water as its stage. MAD’s design responds to its locale by appearing as a boat floating on the river above the water’s surface. As MAD explains, Yiwu has established itself internationally for its strong economy, as the world’s largest wholesale commodities market. Domestically, it is traditionally known as a city of trade, thus making it an integral part of the country’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative.’ While being a hub of growing international commerce, the city decided in 2018 that it would focus on culture to further elevate its soft power, and hosted an international competition to design the ‘Yiwu Grand Theater.’ MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong, competed against four other global architecture firms, coming out ahead of Arata Isozaki & Associates, Atelier Christian de Portzamparc, GMP, and KDG, to secure the project.
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