Architecture of the week. Shanghai Oriental Art Center

The Oriental Arts Centre project is a first rank public cultural building, encompassing mainly three venues : a 1,979 seats Philharmonic Orchestra Hall, a 1,054 seats lyric Theatre, a 330 seats chamber Music Hall. It also features ancillary public facilities, such a Exhibition Hall, Music Shops, restaurant and Arts Exchange premises : arts Library, Multimedia and training Center. The project includes also all the suitable backstage facilities for the needs of the performance control areas, performances premises such as dressing rooms, rehearsal rooms and lounges. The construction started on 26 March 2002 and ended on 31 December 2004.

The building merges architectural artistry with functionality. The material of the façades is mainly laminated glass incorporating perforated metal sheets. The five interconnected hemispherical halls or ‘petals’, resembling a butterfly or butterfly orchid from above, each ‘petal’ belonging in turn to the entrance hall, the Performance Hall, the Concert Hall, the Exhibition Hall, and the Opera Hall, respectively. To avoid confusion when inside, the interior of each of the five segments are decorated with large distinctly coloured pebbles hung on the walls as a means of differentiating between them. Inside, the dark granite floors and richly hued furnishings offer the feeling of being inside a forest, while the metal-layered glass screen walls filter the sunshine for a softly diffused forest floor effect.

With a 39,694 sq.m construction site area, the project is built on 7 main levels. The project architectural intend is based on the following basic principles:

– The building has a base on which the public spaces will develop
– The halls will emerge from the base as trees from the earth
– The building should be covered and enclosed by one unique cantilevered roof, linked by curved glass walls to the base
– Spaces inside the building are distributed around and from a central circulation and meeting point. This should apply to the public as well as to the performers and the VIP’s
– The public space should be open and adaptable in order to increase the potential of use of the building
– The performers should be provided with an efficient and agreeable working space
– The three performance halls should be different in form and use different materials
– The outside walls of the three halls will use enamel ceramic as their main common material
– The material of the façades will be a glass incorporating a perforated metal sheet of variable density
– The facades design itself will express innovation, modernity and enhance the public areas
– Although secondary in their functional importance, the public spaces will define the character of the building and its filting with the spirit of the time.

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