SPF:a entered a competition to design an iconic, 1,500 seat opera house for the city of Zhuhai, in Guangdong Province, China. The site is located on a man-made island just off the coast of Zhuhai, strikingly visible and with the potential to become a landmark symbol of the City itself. As part of the competition, SPF:a also reconfigured an existing port into a backbone of retail and entertainment amenities for what will become a future cultural center of Zhuhai. SPF:a’s concept reflects the originality and vibrant heart of the local culture, and is clear enough as to be universally understood - connected to the rest of the world in its elemental simplicity. The primary element of the scheme, a critical geographic and cultural element of Zhuhai City, is a stone. The concept develops the Opera House as a stack of rocks: 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.


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