Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cultural expression in the built form!

By Vinita Wagh
Photography: Courtesy the architects
Read Time: 3 mins 
"Fuzhou Art centre PES Architects indiaartndesign"
photography: Marc Goodwin & Zhang Yong

PES-Architects present China with The Fuzhou Strait Culture and Art Centre, a catalyst that induces cultural momentum in a city dominated by rapid development.

The studio interlaces the brilliance of the Jasmine blossom with its significance to Mawei New Town, Fuzhou, to conceptualise a winning proposal that gives the city flower architectural expression, translating its petals into 5 venues (Opera House, Concert Hall, Multi-functional Theatre, Art Exhibition Hall and Cinema Centre) – fragmented and human-scaled, yet unified.


facade closeup: The facades are entirely clad with ceramic elements. The glazed façade of the venue foyers called the “Curved Galleries” are shaded on the exterior by white ceramic baguettes with a lens-shaped profile. Photography: Marc Goodwin

ceramic facade louvers: The white ceramic louvers are positioned so as to maximise the shading effect, and to miminise heat gain from the sunlight. Each louver is 1.8m long. The back side of the buildings is clad with 80x40cm large ceramic plate elements.  Photography: Marc Goodwin

Nestled between the Minjiang River and Jasmine Plaza on one side and the Jasmine Gardens on the other, the venues connect at the cultural concourse and the roof terrace – the latter easily accessed by ramps from the Plaza and the Garden. A spiral ramp too vertically connects the public areas. The seamless connection of the complex continues through easy circulation patterns that weave together the indoors and the outdoors. 

concourse lobby: The main entrance Concourse Lobby is an open space to be used for cultural activities.  The so called “Mushroom Columns” host elevators and ventilation equipment.  “Sky Blossoms” in the lobby ceiling introduce daylight and create a connection between the ground level and the roof terrace above. Photography: Marc Goodwin
A spiral ramp connects the three public levels of the plaza. The Curved Galleries double-curved interior wall surfaces are clad with bamboo profiles. From here the visitors enter into the five venues. Photography: Marc Goodwin
The sunlight entering the Curved Galleries is cut by the exterior ceramic louvers. The Multipurpose Hall foyer walls are partly clad with solid CNC cut bamboo material, as a reference to the interior design of the hall. Photography: Marc Goodwin

Public interior spaces open out into the surrounding Gardens and the Natural Reserve beyond. A promenade route along the river, at the underground level, connects the landscape to the interiors as well as to a metro node. The venues boast of a semi-public gallery at their core, mirroring the curvature of the main façade, clad with bamboo profiles. ‘Mushroom Columns’ and ‘Sky Blossoms’ camouflage services and introduce daylight into the lobbies respectively.

The Opera Hall is designed for a 1600 seat audience.  The shape is fully generated with the help of acoustic scripting tools, and the complex 3000m2 double-curved surface is clad with about 1.5 million custom developed ceramic tiles. Photography: Marc Goodwin
The complex geometry of the Opera Hall is continued to the entrance corridors, creating a homogenously connected double-curved skin. The side balconies provide for intimate spaces, embraced by the elaborate double-curved acoustic surface. Photography: Marc Goodwin
The free form acoustic surfaces of the Opera Hall are fully clad with custom developed ceramic tiles.  There are 13 different tile types, creating a floral pattern, inspired by the Jasmine, the city flower of Fuzhou.The “China White” ceramic tiles in the Concert Hall are CNC engraved with a floral pattern, inspired by the peony flower, the national flower of China since the Qing Dynasty. Photography: Marc Goodwin

But the highlight of this new cultural centre lay in the use of ‘China White’ ceramic as a material that stems from its worth in China’s Silk Road history and constitutes the chief material exploited in the project. Taiwanese ceramic artist Samuel Hsuan-yu Shih expertly crafts the dramatic interiors of the auditoriums incorporating new technology, innovative techniques, and solid bamboo parts. Clad with topographical ceramic panels, the aesthetic commands adaptable panels – engraved and mosaic, to realise high-quality acoustics. Custom-designed tiles form floral patterns, abstracted from Peony and Jasmine flowers. Alternately, solid CNC-cut bamboo blocks, custom-sculpted according to acoustical needs, also clad the interiors. As for the exteriors, white ceramic louvers maximise shading and minimise heat gain while 80x40 cm plates dress the rear side.

The main stalls seating area in the Multipurpose Hall is retractable to enable a standing audience and even-level functions. Photography: Marc Goodwin

The stage floor of the Concert Hall, as well as the back walls of the stage and choir balcony are made of solid bamboo material. Photography: Marc Goodwin

The complex geometries of the form and the acoustic research is the result of rigorous scripting that allows for homogeneous surfaces, doubly-curved skins, and accurate positioning of ceramic surfaces and louvers. As such, the Fuzhou SCAC is an inspiring endeavour in interpreting cultural expressions through contemporary means.

Fact File:
Client: Fuzhou New Town Development Investment Group Co., Ltd.
Lead Architects & Designers: PES-Architects
Local Architect: Xu Zongwu, CCEDGC Co. Ltd.
Programme:Opera House (1,600 seats); Concert Hall (1,000 seats); Multi-functional Theatre (700 seats); Art Exhibition Hall, Cinema Centre
Height: 62 metres
Principal Materials: Steel, concrete, bamboo and custom-developed ceramic
Area: Gross area 153,000 sq. m.
Location: Mawei New Town, Fuzhou, China

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