Wings of desire

Thursday 23 Aug 2012

Chinese symbolism and glacial Finnish design work in glorious harmony in Wuxi

The main idea of PES Architects' Wuxi Grand Theatre is based on its location. The man-made peninsula on the northern shore area of Taihu Lake and the highway bridge nearby make this location comparable to that of Sydney Opera House.

Due to this location the building is an impressive landmark, rising up to a total height of 50m like a big sculpture from the terraced base. Its eight gigantic roof wings stretch far over the facades, giving the building the character of a butterfly, while protecting the building from the heat of the sun.

The architectural concept is unique: inside the steel wings are thousands of LED lights, which make it possible to change the colour of the wings according to the character of the performances. This is possible, because the underside of the wings is covered by perforated aluminium panels. Another special feature is the 'forest' of 50 light columns, each 9m high, which start from the main entrance square, support the roof of the central lobby and continue outside of the lakeside entrance into the lake.

There is a strong Chinese feature that runs throughout the whole building: the large scale use of bamboo which is both a traditional and a modern Chinese material. Recently new methods for the production and use of bamboo have made it possible to cover the Main Opera Auditorium with over fifteen thousand solid bamboo blocks, all individually shaped according to acoustic needs and architectural image.

There is also a material with a Finnish character: almost twenty thousand specially designed glass bricks cover the curved wall of the opera auditorium in the lakeside lobby. Finnish nature, lakes and ice, were the architectural inspiration.

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Civic Buildings

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