in shanghai, architecture and design studio neri & hu has completed a new theatre on the site of a building that dated back to the 1930s. over the decades, the previously existing structure had been modified with a number of insensitive renovations, a process which had removed much of its original character. ‘the resulting building as we found it had become a pastiche of various styles and programmatic uses,’ explains the design team.
name: new shanghai theatre
location: shanghai, china
type: architecture renovation and interior design
interior architect & interior designer: neri & hu design and research office
design period: october 2012 – november 2016
gross area for renovation: 845 sqm
special features: theatre, black box theatre , exhibition area, auditorium, lobby, public building, entry plaza, stage, sky light, box office
principals in charge: lyndon neri & rossana hu
associate: ziyi cao
senior associate: tony schonhardt
senior architecture designer: lei zhao
senior project manager: fongwin huang
architecture designer: yifei lu
associate in charge of product design: nicolas fardet
senior product design: xiaowen chen
associate in charge of graphic designer: christine neri
senior graphic designer: siwei ren
graphic designer: haiou xin
in response, neri & hu wanted to restore a sense of clarity and unity, seeking to create an architecturally significant building that would provide the city with a lasting landmark. the design draws on the theatrical acts that take place inside it, with interior and exterior atria conceived as a sequence of dramatic scenes. visitors experience a variety of spatial and lighting configurations as they move through the space, a series that intensifies as you enter deeper into the building.
carefully positioned apertures take advantage of the site’s changing light conditions, resulting in a constantly shifting environment. to add a further sense of intrigue, artificial lighting mimics these conditions during evening hours. fluted bronze walls, reminiscent of theatre curtains, not only guide guests inside the building, but also provide a dramatic contrast with the heavy stone used elsewhere.
entry to the theatre is set back from the sidewalk in order to create an area that provides shelter from the elements. conceived as a covered plaza, this part of the scheme offers an important area of public space that allows passersby to experience the grandeur of the building, with or without a show ticket.
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