A cultural destination
Shenzhen, a city that was a fishing village merely 40 years ago, has evolved into an international hub of innovation and technology. A city with the motto “Time is money, efficiency is life” is notorious for its hyper-density and ruthless competition. Therefore, the mission of the Shenzhen Opera House is more than bringing world-class performance arts to the city, but more importantly, it could balance this fast-paced city by reconnecting its inhabitants back to the waterfront.
The sunken connection
On resolving the 36m-wide cut at ground level by the Wanghai Road, a raised platform connection could negatively impact the urban streetscape, obstructing views of the Opera House and casting shadows to its surroundings. Instead, the proposal opts for maximizing the pre-planned sunken connection to facilitate the nearby flows. Four extensive valley-like openings are shaped to ensure smooth pedestrian flows along the site between levels. Together with the proposed subway station and underground garage, the plaza is a continuous landscape that channels energy from the city to the water, while providing cultural, retail, F&B and other amenities to different users.
The architectural form is derived from rotating three main halls around a central atrium. Each hall is marked by a whimsical spiral flying towards the sky. Together these vortices define the public spaces for the opera and concert goers and create an accessible roof-scape for the public to enjoy a captivating view of the Nanshan Mountains and Shenzhen Bay Highway Bridge. These revolving “ribbons” are 12-13m above street level, and seemingly rise to cover the 36-44m tall performance halls. The layering strategy helps to reduce the urban scale of the mega-structure.
The Arts Community
Echoing the fluidity of the Opera House design, the Urban Art Parlour is a smaller vortex next to the east plaza valley. While a central auditorium, a flanking atrium and a series of meeting rooms accommodate all kinds of art events, a café + art shop set amid a scenic garden surely would be a destination on its own to draw in the artsy crowd. The multi-functional theatre is located between two sunken plaza openings and right under the water feature along the Opera House façade. The shadow of water creates a dramatic entrance to every performance.
On the North plot, the architectural spiral recurs in the manner of a utilitarian belt and shapes a courtyard community for the support team and their families. Apart from providing all living convenience from grocery shopping to daycare service, the sunken plaza ends here with an amphitheater that also serves as a wading pool, a perfect venue for an impromptu performance while cooling off the summer heat. The ramping rooftop, where sun exposure is plentiful, is accessible for the residents to practice urban farming or a quick jog while enjoying spectacular views of the city.
A symbol for the city’s transformation
The woven texture of the exterior ribbons is inspired by the traditional wicker hats and baskets that are still being used by farmers and fishermen in the region. The parametric tessellation of stone tiles adds a layer of sophistication to the vernacular pattern, a metaphor to the technological transformation of the once primitive village. The curved façade comes alive as the day goes by, subtly playing its own visual symphony with light.
project: Shenzhen Opera House Competition
organizer: Municipality of Shenzhen
location: Next to Shenzhen Bay Park at the south end of Shekou Peninsula in Nanshan District
design scope: 17.5 hectares
team: Christina Luk, Munyee Ng, Edoardo Nieri, Andrei Smolik, Dong Wu , Weifeng Yu, Yicheng Zhang
3d Visualization: Infinite Vision Technology Co. Ltd
design period: February 2020