©Shu He

Shanghai Hongqiao Performing Arts Center is located in Tinshan Road, the new commercial boulevard in Hongqiao, one of Shanghai’s central activity districts. It replaces and expands on the existing state-run cinema centre on the site. The site is surrounded by brightly lit shopping malls built this century. BAU decided early that to be civic and enduring in this overly excited commercial environment, doing less not more would be an effective strategy. The project was the subject of three rounds of invited competition over 5 years before BAU was finally awarded the contract to design the project.
This project includes both traditional and modern programs of mass entertainment: theatre (1000 seats) and cinema (seven of various capacities). Usually seen as separate programs and increasingly supported by distinctly different user groups, this project presents the opportunity for the two different programs and variable patrons to engage. To clearly articulate the programs as separate objects, the design strategy was to link them via one single enclosed plaza to create an in-between-space in which the differences between the programs are enhanced, the potential for cross-patronage maximised, and cross-fertilization between the performing arts encouraged.

The theatre is developed as a stone monolith (a traditional material for a traditional program) with rounded articulation and a theatrical staircase. The cinemas are an ensemble of stacked metal boxes (a 20th Century material for a 20th Century program).
The enclosed plaza has ticket offices, cafés, flexible exhibition event space, and open views to the external plaza and streetscape. A large folded mesh screen defines this internal plaza, appearing solid in daylight and revealing the lobby when illuminated. The theatre is a 1000-seat multi-function proscenium theatre with fly tower. A balance of direct site lines and intimacy is achieved through the addition of a balcony and the use of timber lining that wraps the space with a folded surface in the manner of the building’s façade. Contrasting with the grey stone monolithic exterior, the walls and ceilings of the interior are lined in timber, while the floors are paved in a local stone which has a remarkable timber-like texture. Dressing rooms, small rehearsal spaces, and support services are accommodated in a horizontal building at the rear. The converted containers allude to the temporal life of the theatre and its players. Subway Line 15 is adjacent to the site and necessitated cantilevering structure along the North-East boundary. The building envelope is manipulated to allow sunlight into neighbouring apartments and to fit within strict setback and height controls. Earthquake requirements and a complex brief further add to the puzzle-like qualities of this project.

The project achieves China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban and Rural Development (MOHURD) Green star accreditation. This was a BAU initiative as it is not yet common in China. Initiatives include renewable energy flat plate solar collectors together with air-source heat pumps and a 4-tonne water storage tank producing hot water for the building. The project utilizes screw air-cooling heat pump units for its air conditioning system. Rainwater from roof and paving is harvested and reused. Seeking to create an accessible and welcoming public presence, both street edges are entirely glazed with high-transparency glass sourced for this purpose. The lobby and external paving is virtually continuous to further this connection. Seating alongside planting beds on the east street edge provides shaded amenity to the public, and an open plaza on the south provides neighbouring residents’ a space for dancing and informal performance.

Project Data
Type: Theatre + Cinema Complex
Project Status: Completed 2016. Design commencement 2006.
Location: No.888 Tianshan Road, Changning District, Shanghai, China
Year: 2006-2016
Client: Shanghai Changning Cultural Bureau Area: 14,300 sqm
Program: 1000-seat theatre x1; 7 cinemas (264 seat x1, 172 seat x2, 105 seat x1, 95 seat x2, 44 seat x1), café x2, offices, 50 lot underground parking x 1
Sustainability: China MOHURD 2 Green Stars Accreditation
Architecture : Jiang Han, Song Hui, Luo Huaili, Liu Shuai, Rong Yu, Steve Whitford, James Brearley
Landscape: Robin Armstrong, Luo Li, Chen Qi, Li Shu Yun, Xiong Juan
Interior Design: Zou Yu Hai, Emma Rytoff
Interior Architect: BAU + Shanghai Jianke Architectural Design Institute Co., Ltd
Documenting Architect and Engineer: Qingdao Times Architectural Design Co., Ltd
Acoustic Consultant: Shanghai Research Institute of Building Science Group
Lighting Consultant: Shanghai KEEY Lighting Co., Ltd.
Theater Stage Tech: Zhejiang Dafeng Industry Co., Ltd.
Cinema Tech: Shanghai Paradise CineTech Co., Ltd.
Building contractor: Jiangsu Guangyu Construction Group