Excellence Awards 2016
Dai Show Theatre

Dai Show Theatre

As part of a large cultural development in Xishuangbanna  (China) , Stufish was commissioned by Dalian Wanda Group to design a theatre. Consequently Stufish became the first practice ever to deliver all architectural and show elements for a theatre. Designing the entire project allowed Stufish to present a holistic architectural language throughout. The structure of the 1183 seat building is inspired by the geometry of the palm frond found in local Dai culture and regional nature, and is specifically reflected in the shallow peaked roof. Permanent “dragon roots” appear to grow out of the stage, creating the impression that nature is taking over the architecture.

Nominate a project for the tenth annual Excellence Awards here, before March 1!

The Dai Show Theatre is a purpose built theatre located in Xishuangbanna, China as part of a major new resort by the Dalian Wanda Group.

The brief was to create a thematic venue for the Wanda development inspired by the local culture and nature of Xishuangbanna in the Yunnan Province in China fusing them to create an iconic symbol. The building was to house a permanent acrobatic water show created by show producers Dragone.  Stufish also designed the stage and set for the show.

The structure of the 1,183 seat theatre is inspired by the geometry of the local palm frond, folding in a manner which increases the structural rigidity and echoes the roofs of local Dai architecture. The 110m diameter golden roof is split into two tiers expressing the folding nature of palm fronds. The roof acts as a canopy for the open-air lobby and the structural openings between the tiers allow for natural ventilation responding to Xishuangbanna’s subtropical climate.

Stufish’s organic design continues inside the theatre, where long textured “leaves” form golden walls that twist up into the ceiling, creating an intimate, low-lit atmosphere in the VIP areas. The repetitive folding patterns carry on throughout the interior spaces, into exclusive suites, at times transforming into radial embossed chandeliers. In the auditorium the primary folded trusses of the roof structure are exposed and with the low grid height, sitting just 18m above the seats, it creates an intimate experience giving the impression that the audience is sat beneath a canopy of palm trees. Stufish also integrated ten acrobatic gates with an elaborate 3D flying system into the design of the roof structure, allowing performers to fly from the 9m platform and soar above both stage and audience.

The auditorium is arranged so that the audience is seated in the round, surrounding a 1,400sqm stage that is split into three sections. The main central stage has a 14m-wide performance basin containing an 8m wide pool plug which lowers down 5.5m to allow for a dramatic 15m high-dive off the catwalk above. Adjacent is the forestage, which, along with the central stage, can be either wet or dry. The final performance area is a dry upstage section used symbolically to convey a vast infinity and for more practical purposes, such as storing and transporting scenery. Water can flood the areas separately and fill the entire performance basin in 45 seconds and then be drained in just 20 seconds.

The production’s fantastical elements are emphasised by scenery hanging from the grid above and permanent large “dragon roots” that appear to grow out of the stage and create the impression that nature is taking over the architecture. Lighting, projection and special water effects such as cascades and fountains, further support a creative storyline of imagination, love and local legends.

The holistic approach to the complete design has created an extraordinary theatre, where the worlds of architecture and set design have been coherently and magically united.

The building and show opened 25 September 2015.

Partial Equipment List
255 Goldensea Lighitng Fixtures
14 Clay Paky A.Leda B-Eye K20 
230 Philips Showline SL Spots
82 Ayrton ArcaLine™2 100 LED
5 ETC Sensor 3 Dimmer Rack
2 ETC Paradigm Architectural Control Processor
2 MA Lighting grandMA 2 Console
4 VYV Photon Media Server
9 Christie DS+14K-M Projector
232 VYV Copernic LED Emitter
14 Antari Z-3000-IIR Fog Machine
2 Meyer Sound CueConsole
2 Meyer Sound D-Mitri System
2 Meyer Sound Galileo 616
Meyer Sound Loudspeaker System
2 Lubell Labs Underwater Loudspeaker
Sennheiser Wireless Mic System
Clear-Com HME Pro850 Wireless Intercom
1 Yamaha DME 24N

Design Project Team

Architect: Stufish Entertainment Architects
Interior Designer: Stufish Entertainment Architects
Theatre Consultants: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander
Clerk of Works: Sandman Associates International
Construction Design: China IPPR International Engineering Co. Ltd
Interior LDI: Beijing Qingshang Environmental Art & Architectural Design Institute Co. Ltd.
Landscape Designer: DL&C Landscapes Pty Ltd., Guangdong, China
Contractor: China State 11
Client: Dalian Wanda Group

Performance Project Team

Set Designer: Stufish Entertainment Architects
Lighting Designer: Olivier Legendre
Costume Designer: Nicolas Vaudelet
Sound Designer: Corrado Campanelli
Composer: Michael Brennan
Projection Specialists: VYV Corporation
Theatre Draperies: Showtex, Hong Kong
Scenery Fabrication: Yang Liping Workshop, Beijing
Client/Director: Dragone

Nominate a project for the tenth annual Excellence Awards here, before March 1!

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