When it comes to build something visually striking and unique for the architectural community to observe as well as for the public audience, then we find MAD architects, along with very few others,  comes on the top of the list ! The Chines based firm designs always keep their usual fluid movement language intact, by creating dynamic forms and incorporating sleek lines and soft curves to showcase a beautiful flowing appearance. Here, the case is Harbin Opera House, where the enchantingly fluid curves span the interior of the building and resemble a breathtaking structure that has been formed by the natural forces of Harbin Cultural Island.

Image © Adam Mork

Image © Adam Mork

The opera house was designed in response to the location’s natural elements of the northern city’s untamed wilderness and frigid climate, “We envision Harbin Opera House as a cultural center of the future – a tremendous performance venue, as well as a dramatic public space that embodies the integration of human, art and the city identity, while synergistically blending with the surrounding nature,” said Ma Yansong, founding principal, MAD Architects.

Image © Adam Mork

Image © Adam Mork

The building, which situated on an area of 850,000 square feet, features a three-petalled plan. One houses a grand theatre with space for up to 1,600 visitors, while the other is a more intimate a large public plaza for an audience of 400.

Image © Hufton Crow

Image © Hufton Crow

The exterior curvilinear façade is composed of smooth white aluminum panels, as a mirror of the sinuous curves of the marsh landscape. The smooth exterior sculptural quality continues with the interiors cladding, where a large entrance lobby features a combination of glass and timber and a latticed ceiling that is located beneath the sculptural glass roof.

Image © Hufton Crow

Image © Hufton Crow

Sculpted from a large block of Manchurian Ash, the wooden large walls smoothly enclose the main stage and theater seating of the grand theatre, with balconies and staircases wrapping around the outside. MAD describes is as “emulating a wooden block that has been gently eroded away”. The second, smaller theater, offers more of a connection to the exterior as it features a large panoramic window behind the performance stage. This wall provides a naturally scenic backdrop for performances and activates the stage as an extension of the outdoor environment, inspiring production opportunities.

Image © Hufton Crow

Image © Hufton Crow

Architects: MAD Architects
Location: Harbin, Heilongjiang, China
Directors: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Design Team: Jordan Kanter, Daniel Gillen, Bas van Wylick, Liu Huiying, Fu Changrui, Zhao Wei, Kin Li ,Zheng Fang, Julian Sattler, Jackob Beer, J Travis Russett, Sohith Perera, Colby Thomas Suter, Yu Kui, Philippe Brysse, Huang Wei, Flora Lee, Wang Wei, Xie Yibang, Lyo Hengliu, Alexander Cornelius, Alex Gornelius, Mao Beihong, Gianantonio Bongiorno, Jei Kim, Chen Yuanyu, Yu Haochen, Qin Lichao, Pil-Sun Ham, Mingyu Seol, Lin Guomin, Zhang Haixia, Li Guangchong, Wilson Wu, Ma Ning, Davide Signorato, Nick Tran, Xiang Ling, Gustavo Alfred Van Staveren, Yang Jie.
Associate Engineers: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design
Project Year: 2015
Photographs: Hufton+Crow, Adam Mørk

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