In the northern Chinese city of Harbin, Mad Architects designed the home of the brand new Harbin Opera House, complet in 2015. The city is known for its dramatic climate and natural landscapes and also it is the host of China’s coolest annual tradition, the famous Ice and Snow Festival. This amazing structure – Harbin Opera House is the focal point of the Cultural Island. The huge cultural building features a three-petalled plan that encompasses two concert halls and a large public plaza. It occupies a building area of approx. 850,000 square feet of the site’s 444 acres total area.
On top of the Harbin Opera House has a rooftop terrace that offers views of the Harbin metropolitan skyline. He didn’t want to create a dark space in the middle of the park, because when people enter in it, he wants they to still fill like the sun is moving around them.
The Harbin Opera House structure welcomes visitors to climb its sloping facade via a ramp connected to the ground level, public plaza, which leads to an observation deck and an amphitheater.
“We envision Harbin Opera House as a cultural centre 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 studio founder Ma Yansong.
The exterior architecture references the sinuous landscape of the surrounding area with its curvilinear facade composed of smooth white aluminum panels which melts into the snowy environment during the winter months. In the interior, presenting a warm and inviting element, 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.
“Most visitors come to the opera house to watch a performance, but we want them to feel like they themselves are performers. The opera house is such a dramatic, beautiful setting—it’s almost as if the people are the ones being showcased, like they’ve become part of the drama. For the moment, they’re away from reality, like they’ve fallen into an imaginary space or dream. That’s what I want.” – said the architect.