Xerjoff Magazine

Yiwu Grand Theatre: sailing architecture


The MAD Architects studio has designed a futuristic theatre in the Chinese province of Yiwu covered with layers of glass that look like sails.

Next year the construction site that will lead to the construction of an original semi-floating theatre will open in the Chinese city of Yiwu. The Author of the project is the MAD Architects studio led by Ma Yansong who conceived the structure as a set of sails, evocative of the Chinese ships that once transported goods across the oceans.

Designed to instill dynamism to the structure, as if it were to be a boat on water moved by the wind, the sails will be made of glass. Their sinuous forms also seem to pay homage to the Jiangnan-style roofs of the traditional architecture of the region. The transparency and lightness of the glass portrays a dynamic rhythm that seems to be dictated by the wind blowing. Located on the south bank of the Dongyang River, the “Yiwu Grand Theatre” includes a 1600-seat theatre, another smaller theatre, a convention centre, an amphitheatre, a large open square that extends into the water and a series of panoramic terraces that allow a wide view of the surroundings.

To reduce energy consumption, MAD Architects designed the building with a passive solar project. The continuous façade in semi-transparent glass was developed not only as a shading system, but also to optimize the use of natural light within the internal public spaces, forming a solar greenhouse effect in the winter season. While in summer, it acts as a ventilation system, improving the circulation of airflow inside and outside the building.