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Zaha Hadid Architects design: Meixihu International Culture and Arts Centre opens to visitors

Georgina Johnston
29 Jan 2020

China's Changsha museum, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, hosts first exhibition

The new Culture and Arts Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects incorporates a contemporary art museum (MICA), an 1,800 seat theatre with supporting facilities and a multipurpose hall. Its organic architectural language is defined by pedestrian routes that weave through the site to connect with neighbouring streets.

Providing views of the adjacent Meixi Lake from the city and giving access to the parks and walking trails on the lake’s Festival Island, this ensemble of three separate cultural institutions creates external courtyards where pedestrian routes intersect for outdoor events and sculpture exhibitions.

The Culture & Arts Centre connects directly with its station on Line 2 of Changsha’s new Metro System, making it the largest and most versatile cultural centre in the Hunan province. 

Located on historic trade routes through China, the city of Changsha and its traditions are an important centre of communication. It continues as one of the country’s leading media hubs with the centre’s Grand Theatre, hosting a popular programme of performances and television productions.

Designed for the widest variety of performing arts, the Grand Theatre provides all front-of-house functions in sculpted lobbies, bars and hospitality suites, as well as the necessary ancillary functions including administration offices, rehearsal studios, backstage logistics, wardrobe and dressing rooms.

With eight juxtaposed exhibition galleries totalling 10,000m² centred around an atrium for large-scale installations and events, the MICA art museum also includes dedicated spaces for community workshops, a lecture theatre, café and museum shop.

The Small Theatre is characterized by its flexibility. This multipurpose hall with a capacity of 500 seats can be transformed into different configurations to accommodate a broad range of functions and performances that span from small plays, fashion shows and music performances to banquets and commercial events.  

Totalling 115,000m², these three civic institutions are uniquely defined and separate, yet complement each other with different opening times to create vitality throughout the day and evening. The theatre becomes active when the art museum concludes its day-time operations, whilst the variety of events in the smaller theatre ensure it will be used at all times.

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