Work starts on P&T's award winning design
An award-winning new cultural center complex is underway in the Shunde district in Foshan City southeast China. Commissioned by the Shunde Shi New City Development Centre, a local government body, the complex includes a performing arts center, library, and two museums.
Shunde Cultural Centre consists of a performing art centre and a library in Phase 1 and two museums in Phase 2. To give identify to these four buildings while appearing as a unified whole, they are layout on both sides of the new city axis and are made into two complimentary pairs like the couplet outside traditional Chinese doors. Being in a new district developed from farmland and almost without any site context, the fours buildings adopt a bold geometry to express the entrepreneur and daring spirit of Shunde people, and at the same time, play great attention to practicality and attempt to design "without fat", not only to express the pragmatic character of the people, but also to meet the tight budget of the project.
The first pair of couplet formed by the performing art centre and the library share a complementary "yin yang" massing with the oval form of the arts center fitting into the void of the library. The performing arts center will include a 1,500-seat theater, a 500-seat oval shaped concert hall and an ancillary music school. Through the use of an inverted "Y" shape, the back-of-house facilities and technical equipment for the theater and concert hall can be shared. The Shunde Performing Arts Center was awarded in "the 2006 DFA Best Design from Greater China". The jurors commented that "Shunde Performing Arts Centre puts Shunde and Foshan on the Asia cultural scene and proves that outstanding design and a tight budget are not necessarily mutually exclusive."
The adjacent Shunde Library serves the community as a public library and also houses two major exhibition halls on its lower floors. The lobby, which is made up of colonnades of reading booths resembling a gigantic bookcase. The theme of bamboo, the "scholar of nature" according to Chinese ideology, is used in the design of the elevation and throughout the interiors. Reading areas are punctuated with gardens and courtyards, and there is considerable natural sunlight throughout. The project was awarded by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Library Association (ALA) "the 2007 AIA/ALA Library Building Award". The jurors commented that "This Chinese library achieves a subtle, poetic response to its Asian culture, reflecting a global architecture that, nonetheless, maintains a compelling sense of place. The jury was impressed not only by its community centreed offerings but also by the quality of its design and execution that equals the best of international architecture."
Across the street, two new museums share a similar concept and composition that follows traditional feng shui principles and the vernacular architecture of the region. The Shunde Science and Technology Museum is visually formed by seven solid slabs rotating around a glass drum which is linked to the roof to form a greenhouse. At the center is a capsule-like atrium with a cascade of escalators.
The arts center completed in 2005 and library was completed in 2006; the museums are under construction and scheduled for completion in 2009.