I don’t care what half the people said on that recent post about how ugly Shanghai’s new cruise ship terminal was – it is an architectural horror and the amount of commenters who signed up specifically to say it was great makes me wonder how many PR flackies SPARCH has on hand. But this post isn’t about that – this post is about some real architecture worth oohing and aahing at: the plans for the Shanghai Cultural Plaza.
Designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, 70% of the 2,000 seat venue is actually underground, making it the world’s largest underground theater.
Say the architects:
The site will be developed as a new city park with a 2,000-seat theater as its centerpiece. The theater will be built primarily below ground with paths and water flowing around it. The fluid lines of the building and its roof are intended to unite the theater with its context and soften its impact on the park. At the center of the building’s lobby is “the funnel,” the building’s most prominent and symbolic feature. The crystalline glass and steel funnel flows out of the roof (the sky) to the ground (the lobby floor) reinforcing the importance of water in the Chinese culture and the development of Shanghai.
They’re also adapting and reusing six historic buildings – which, considering the recent spate of bad architectural news we’ve been hearing, makes me giggle with glee. Speaking of historic, China Travel dug up some history on the area:
In 1928, a dog-racing stadium was built on the site, financed principally by Henry Morris, proprietor of the North China Daily News, whose family estate (now the Ruijin hotel) stood a short way to the east. The Shanghai Canidrome, could seat some 50,000 spectators and was a huge hit with the city’s foreign population, who came to gamble, drink and dance in the stadium’s ballroom, which featured performances from the likes of Buck Clayton.
Go over to their site to read more (and see more pictures). Frankly, the only way I could be happier with this design is if they told me I would absolutely be able to picnic on the grass.