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China’s Wuxi Taihu Show Theater is inspired by the country’s largest bamboo forest

Steven Chilton Architects designed the project.

January 07, 2020 |

Located in China’s Jiangsu Province, the recently opened Wuxi Show Theater takes its design inspiration from the Sea of Bamboo Park in Yixing, China’s largest bamboo forest.

The 2000-seat theater is composed of three primary elements: the columns, the shade canopy, and the building envelope. The slender white columns are positioned around the perimeter of the building to provide a screen between the building facade and the surrounding landscape as well as create an abstract impression of a bamboo forest. The shade canopy, which wraps around the building’s perimeter at roof level, represents the canopy of leaves at the top of a bamboo forest. It comprises various triangular bays containing rows of gold anodized aluminum louvres.


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Each bay is oriented randomly to create shade patterns that fall across the building envelope throughout the day and to heighten the sense of variation when viewed from different angles. Each bay of louvres is supported on a triangular lattice structure that braces the tops of the columns and transfers their load into the primary structure of the building. From an environmental standpoint, the shade canopy and columns help passively lower the cooling load on the building.

Finally, the building envelope is composed of rendered and painted block-work and curtain wall glazing. The glazing is the full height of the building in and above the entrance lobby to provide maximum views into and out of the main public areas. White and gold stripes travel the full height of the building to mimic the “bamboo” columns and continue the forest of bamboo effect.

The completed theater will house a permanent water show by Franco Dragone.

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