Zhuhai, China

Aria Di Zhuhai

Located in the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, China, the Zhuhai Opera House is a study in fusing together ancient cultural messages with the possibilities of present day technological advancements in architecture and structural engineering. The project design brief required the ability to seat 1,500 people, provide a large plaza gathering space, rehearsal hall, restaurants and other public amenities. The brief also required that Yeli Island be master planned to deal with transportation, service, and future use issues.

The primary element of the design, a critical geographic and cultural element of Zhuhai City, is a stone – specifically, the“Dieshi,” which means “Stacking Rock.” The concept develops the Opera House as 3 stacked Dieshi: part of a master plan based on the principal of “balance” from Five Element Theory, a traditional Chinese philosophy. The site and the opera house merge into poetic form, representing balance, function, and ecological harmony, and invoking the traditional Chinese philosophy of the Five Elements. A red, sandstone plaza invites cultural interaction, and a forest is
planted behind the site – the embodiment of growth and sustainability. The shape of the center stone comfortably houses the opera house auditorium, its curvature lending perfectly to the intimacy of the space.

Definition of the Five Elements – Earth, Wood, Fire, Metal, Water

Forest of Earth and Wood: Nurtures the soil, improves the environment

Plaza of Fire: Red sandstone, a regional material of the Lingnan Area, articulates the plaza, and represents the Fire element. The imagery is also reminiscent of a red carpet leading to the opera house. In the Five Elements, Fire represents endless vitality and potential, in this case pertaining to activities in the public plaza.

Opera house of metal: Organic form and intelligent metal skin. A metallic skin supports and envelops the structure, allowing air passage for ventilation & cooling and represents growth.

Water: water is the element that connects all views and activities from the Opera House. A redesigned pier complex provides a social anchor for commercial and entertainment activities. The lively and iconic architectural language of stacked stones on a blanketed red public plaza creates a strong sense of poetry, responding to the unique circumstance of the site and city.