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Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography

Mapping illustrations on the complex twisting facade of Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre

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Steven Chilton Architects designs the ‘Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre’ inspired by local traditional and contemporary artists. The concept is influenced by silk embroidery illustration by the artist Zhang Hongfei. The London based practice SCA | Steven Chilton Architects is a group of highly skilled practitioners connecting cultural insight and creative use of technology to achieve unexpected architecture that seeks to embrace, captivate and surprise.

Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography

The cladding surface is characterized by imagery that reflects the mission of the theatre to cultivate artistic talents. The exterior form takes inspiration from the physical shape of silk cloth folds and is expressed through a series of ten twisting folds that define the outer skin of the building. The entrances are located where the folds would touch the ground and are covered by overhanging the facade. The cladding is made of perforated aluminium panels, painted taking inspiration from the hand drawn illustrations created by the artist. In order to be able to accurately represent the illustrations on the facade, the team at Steven Chilton Architects developed a process of digitisation and mapping of each figure on the facade geometry, respecting the topology of the base surface. The substructure of the facade is composed of a structure of welded steel tubes, independent from the primary concrete structure of the floor slabs.

Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography

The theatre interiors host a main auditorium, where immersive and transformable performances take place. The experience for the audience is 360, including stages at different heights and a central deep pool to create a flexible space for spectacular effects.

“We were influenced by a beloved local myth, ‘100 Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix’. The Phoenix or ‘Fenghuang’ stands for virtue and grace whilst the allegory signifies notions of recognition, leadership and mentoring.”

The theatre is scheduled to open in 2021.

Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre designed by Steven Chilton Architects. Image © Chong‐Art Photography
Francesca Silvi

Francesca Silvi

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