Beijing studio MAD was responsible for the architecture design of the opera house in the Chinese city of Harbin. The building shape features an undulating form that wraps two concert halls, a huge public plaza, and the surrounding wetland landscape along Harbin’s Songhua River.
The sinuous opera house is the focal point of the Cultural Island, occupying a building area of approximately 850,000 square feet of the site’s 444 acres total area. It features a grand theater that can host over 1,600 patrons and a smaller theater to accommodate an intimate audience of 400. Embedded within Harbin’s wetlands, the Harbin Opera House was designed in response to the force and spirit of the northern city’s untamed wilderness and frigid climate. Appearing as if sculpted by wind and water, the building modern design seamlessly blends in with nature and the topography—a transfusion of local identity, art, and culture.
“We envision Harbin Opera House as a cultural center of the future – a tremendous performance venue, as well as a dramatic public space that embodies the integration of human, art and the city identity, while synergistically blending with the surrounding nature,” said Ma Yansong, founding principal, MAD Architects.
On the exterior, the architecture references the sinuous landscape of the surrounding area. The resulting curvilinear façade composed of smooth white aluminum panels becomes the poetry of edge and surface, softness, and sharpness.
Presenting a warm and inviting design, the grand theater is clad in rich wood, emulating a wooden block that has been gently eroded away. Sculpted from Manchurian Ash, the wooden walls gently wrap around the main stage and theater seating.
MAD combines an architecture inspired by nature and saturated in local identity, culture, and art. As the Harbin Opera House deepens the emotional connection of the public with the environment, the architecture design is consequently theatrical in both its performance of narrative spaces and its context within the landscape.
Photographs: Hufton+Crow, Adam Mørk
Take a look at the remarkable architectural project of Harbin Opera House by Studio MAD