New Shanghai Theatre, Shanghai

Designed by: Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
For client: Shanghai Xuhui District People's Government Hunan Community Office Floor area: 845.00 M² Year of completion: 2016

Lobby

Lobby

About the Project

The existing building that Neri&Hu was commissioned to renovate occupies the site of a former theater from the 1930s. From the street, the building reads as a heavy volume hovering just above ground level. Encased entirely in stone, the upper two floors relinquish any outwardly openings in favor of vertically carved apertures. Drawing inspiration from theatrics, the carved spaces of the interior and exterior atriums were conceptualized as series of dramatic scenes — scenes of varying spatial and lighting configurations are experienced as one moves throughout the space, intensifying as one explores deeper into the building.

To guide theatergoers into the building, fluted bronze walls — like theater curtains — cloak the drama of the main stage behind it. The entry and ticketing area are recessed back from the pedestrian walkway in order to create a covered plaza, an extension of the street, blurring the boundaries of public and private.

What’s unique about it

The design challenge was to find a modern material palette and architectural language to recall the clarity and unity of the historic theatre building dating back to the 1930s and to create a lasting landmark for modern Shanghai. Clad entirely in stone, the new Shanghai theatre building reads as a heavy volume hovering just above ground level with a recessed ticketing area creating an intimate covered plaza off the sidewalk as a gesture of giving back public space to the city.

The design concept draws inspiration from the artistic medium of theatre by animating light and shadow as a material to convey drama. The carved spaces of the interior and exterior atriums are treated as a series of dramatic scenes; these varying spatial and lighting configurations intensify as the visitor journeys deeper into the building. Several strategically placed apertures take advantage of the hourly shifting light conditions to create an ever-changing dynamic environment. To guide theatregoers into the building, fluted bronze walls—reminiscent of theatre curtains—accentuate the sense of drama and introduces weightlessness in contrast to the heavy mass above. By blurring the boundaries of public and private, the public and casual passersby are invited to experience part of the building’s theatricality, with or without a ticket.

Entrance Plaza2

Entrance plaza

Exterior

Exterior

Entrance Plaza

Entrance Plaza

Entrance Plaza3

Entrance Plaza

Detail Of Exterior

Detail of the exterior

Entrance Plaza And Lobby

Entrance Plaza and lobby

Corridor From The Lobby To Theatre Entrance

Corridor from lobby to the entrance plaza

Second Floor Corridor

Second floor corridor

View To The Lobby From The Second Floor

View of the lobby from the second floor

Credits:
Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

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