Thanks to an innovative design that marries the formality of the opera with the informality of island culture, Heatherwick Studio won a competition to design the Hainan Performing Arts Centre. Hainan is an island province located at China's southernmost point and this new landmark takes its cues from the surrounding landscape. The colorful volcano-shaped canopy accommodates three performance spaces that will give life to a new cultural quarter in the city.
An opera house, concert hall, and theater are all enveloped in a dynamic canopy that acts as an inclusive space for the public. Heatherwick is using these canopies to allow people to mingle in an open-air village that is indicative of island culture. Whether they have a ticket or not, the public will be invited in to socialize. “Many opera houses are cut off from their surroundings and only come to life when a performance is on,” shared Heatherwick Studio Partner and Group Leader Eliot Postma. “We wanted to create a space that is an extension of the city and will contribute to life on the street throughout the day.”
This ambitious design is the firm's first opera and music venue. Inspired by the costumes, colors, and movement of the Hainanese Opera, as well as the surrounding volcanic landscape, the undulating façade is clad in vibrant tiles. When complete, the performing arts center will have a capacity of 3,800 people.
The center will also integrate arts, creative learning, rehearsal, and performance spaces. Aiming to attract international productions, the space will not only stage large-scale opera, ballet, and musicals, but also avant-garde dramas, fashion, and immersive multimedia performances.
To win the competition, which was organized by Haikou Tourism & Culture Investment Holding Group, Heatherwick was also attentive to sustainability. Through testing and data analysis it came up with a design that responds intelligently to the local ecology and climate, reducing energy consumption and costs while cooling the environment for visitors and users of the space.
With construction set to begin at the end of 2022, the project is certainly opening up a new creative avenue for the firm.