Zibo Grand Theater
The background Zibo located in China’s northern Shandong province has a long history and culture since it was the capital of the ancient State of Qi in 2000 BC. The Qi State contributed invaluable elements to Chinese culture including music, ceramics and was even the birthplace of football. Zibo was the political, economic and cultural center for the State of Qi for one hundred years and is also known as the "state with one thousand chariots" and the "head of the five strongest states". Certainly amongst the most famous is Zibo’s ceramics and pottery culture, which remain some of the most important cultural features of the period. The pottery industry started in the State of Qi and developed throughout the Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Ceramics and pottery have over 8,000 years of history in Zibo where the industry still thrives today. Today, this city with 4.8 million inhabitants , is developing rapidly. Zibo city planners have created a new district for the city, including a brand new cultural center. To accommodate the cultural and educational needs of a growing population and to provide a renewed urban identity, the new Zibo Grand Theater will be a key building of the new city center. Located east of the central pedestrian axis and plaza, the new Zibo Grand Theater occupies the most outstanding site in the city center. To its north, the Grand Theater overlooks a new city park alongside an existing canal. To the south the Zibo Grand Theater is connected to the urban life via the Grand Plaza. The concept The Zibo Grand Theater is set to become the new landmark of the new cultural center for the city of Zibo. But its role as city icon in this constantly changing environment of a rapidly developing city required a solid, calm and durable architectural language. This challenge led to the solution of a simple building shape overlaid with a very expressive facade texture directly linked to the city’s Qi history. The building is organized in three horizontal units. The podium, with a solid and enclosed facade made of locally produced stone, hosts the entrances and supporting facilities. Above this base, the main body floats over the lake and hosts the three main functions: the Opera Theater, the Concert Hall and the Cinema Center. They are encased with a white ceramic facade, and feature a fine structure of windows draped over the surface. Visually, the large glass windows connect the public spaces with the surrounding city. A unique user experience is enabled thanks to the large glass facade in the Concert Hall where the audience’s enjoyment is enhanced by the surrounding park backdrop through the window when attending a concert. The functions The core of the building is defined by the Performing Arts Center, which includes the main Opera Theater with 1,500 seats, and the Concert Hall of 800 seats. The Concert Hall is equipped with a feature relatively unknown in China: a great window behind the performing stage enabling stunning views out of the building, inviting the visitors to enjoy a concert and the views of Zibo simultaneously. A cinema on the upper floor and several restaurants, coffee and tea bars are spread over the whole building, and provide all that is needed for an evening full of experiences. The different facilities find their unifying space on the third floor, between the two main volumes of the building, where the main lobby is located. This lobby does not only offer great views of the surrounding park and city center, but extends to a 360° outdoor terrace and provides space for various kinds of events or gatherings, complimenting the building’s main function. The gross floor area is 50,100 sq.m. The materials Inside the Zibo Grand Theater, visitors can experience impressive spaces that are inspired by a remnant of the local Qi culture. Structures, materials and colors found in ancient pottery from this region were used as inspiration to cover the enclosure of the building core, which hosts the Opera Theater and the Concert Hall. This simple yet efficient use of an exclusive material does not only create a beautiful interior decoration, but also provides orientation to the visitors. The facade of the upper building volume is inspired by traditional Chinese pottery structures the State of Qi, whilst being modern in material and function. Daylight can pierce through its vibrant structure; large windows provide views for the main public spaces. Locally produced white ceramic panels are customized to fit the structure, and provide a long lasting exterior shield. The structure lines of the facade are 30cm wide window bands, bringing the exterior structure to the inside, and creating a fascinating light effect onto the interior spaces. At night, the light from inside the building creates a light pattern on the exterior, enhancing the role of the Grand Theater as a new authoritative landmark of Zibo.


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