The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co., Ltd. - Sanmen Theater: holistic form and decentralized functions
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Sanmen Theater: holistic form and decentralized functions

The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co., Ltd.

Culture  /  Completed
The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co., Ltd.
Sanmen County is located on the coast in northeast Taizhou City, with a coastline stretching hundreds of kilometers. With the development and construction of the urban new area, a cultural administrative center is forming at the central axis. The project exactly plays an indispensable role in the cultural development. Mainly serving as a theatre, it combines a cinema, cultural exhibition spaces and a conference hall together. The cinema needs to stay open every day while other three functional spaces are used intermittently at different times. Therefore, a decentralized organization can save resources by independent operation, so as to realize the goal of running one stadium to support the other and the unity of economy and form. Those functional divisions are interconnected with each other through various passages (roofed semi-outdoor spaces), hence forming a complex. Those passages are also part of urban public space, and still accessible to people when the theatre closes, just like entering into a public cultural park. Its completion will further enrich the cultural life and record as one of the essential achievements in the construction of spiritual civilization. Furthermore, it also serves as an important point of the axis with the administration building as the start. Therefore, how to embody urban culture and history is an essential point of the design.
Located on the main axis of the new district, the newly-built Sanmen Theatre echoes with the administrative center and forms a triangle layout combined with the cultural center and museum in a plat square plot. The project covers a land area of 18,125.5 m2 and a total construction area of 13,000 m2. As the project stands at a residential planning area, it poses a challenge on the design. And the client hoped to highlight its image as a cultural building, and become an iconic public building. The project team decided to present a stunning form that resembles a crab, because “Sanmen green crab” is a symbol of Sanmen’s sea culture, as well as a well-known brand in China. Taking cues from the green crab, the project team adopted continuous folding shapes to build a crab-shaped architectural form. It looks like a giant crab sculpture on Binhai Road. The abstract expression creates a unique window to show Sanmen’s culture.
The project team tied to keep it holistic in form, although it has decentralized functions. More than a cultural community, it needs a more powerful image because of its special location at the junction of urban axis and landscaped Binhai Road. The whole architecture is wrapped in sculptural folding shapes, forming roofed public spaces to connect independent functional spaces. The sculptural form makes the building have a stunning presence along the Binhai Road and at the axis. One of key points of design is to build the architectural image along Binhai Road. The road is a major artery in Sanmen, as well as a main landscaped road in the future. After adjusting the planning, the east side of the plot is open to Binhai Road. In other words, people can appreciate the theatre directly when running on Binhai Road. In the project, large transitional space is set at the main entrance facing Binhai Road, which is open to the landscaped square on the east through big steps and to the central axis on the north by an open space. In the context, Sanmen Theatre is not only a functional building, but also a “axis building” that effectively links the central axis and the landscaped square.
The project targets at the general residents who come to watch performances or movies and some people who enjoy exhibitions or attend conference. The theatre and cinema are functional buildings that require professional design. From the auditorium to stage and backstage area, the design requires special professional functions so that the requirements of height and form vary from each other. The folding volume, on the one hand, expresses an abstract image of green crab, bringing a strong visual impact to show a unique cultural building; on the other hand, it satisfies needs of interior stage functions, creates conditions for better quality acousto-optic experience.


 Administration of Culture, Press, and Publication of Sanmen County, Zhejiang, China
 18125.5 mq
 Danshen Dong, Xidong Qian
 Rongbin Peng
 Zhao Qiang


The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co., Ltd. (UAD) was established in 1953. It is one of the earliest First Class Design Institutes among major national universities. The company now has nearly 1400 employees. UAD holds creating harmonious environments, a global vision, complete services, and the highest professionalism as their guidelines. Based on the resources of Zhejiang University, UAD relies on Academicians of the China Academy of Engineering and the China Academy of Sciences to support the blossoming architectural creations. The company seeks extensive international academic exchanges and joint engineering designs. It has won over 1200 awards for outstanding designs, excellent projects or research outcomes at national, ministerial and provincial, as well as international levels.


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