In its previous life, the Stone Nest Amphitheatre was a small-sized stone pit located in the Wujiatuan Village in the city of Weihai, Shandong Province, China, given a name by the local as “Shi Wo Zi (Stone Nest)”, which has been abandoned for years. Around the place are three villages with hundreds of villagers. The lack of public space has always been a problem for the villagers. Meanwhile, such disused quarries are widespread in the region, for which, in recent years, it has been an important issue how ecological redevelopment is to be carried out. The project seeks to change this situation in a sociological and architectural way by providing public space for the people in the area, while ecologically rehabilitating and improving the space environment.
The architect has been especially impressed by the exposed jagged precipice and steep cliff, which renders a presence of some kind of artificial nature with its old traces of quarrying. The new building will include an open-air amphitheater to provide community services for the surrounding villagers, such as public gatherings, cultural and leisure activities, to solve the long-term lack of public community space in the area. At the same time, music festivals, drama festivals and other activities can also be held in the new building, bringing vitality, economic income and public exchanges to the local area.
The project covers an area of about 1500 square meters. The architect hopes to deal with the site, the form of the building and the relationship between them in a light manner. The original cliff in the venue is completely preserved without any treatment and becomes the background stone wall of the theater. Because of its arc form, the stone wall has an excellent acoustic effect, which is not only the stage background, but also the “performer” itself. The grandstand is set around the stone wall, gradually raised from the stage ground level, forming a gathering field. The shape of the stage and stand is set according to the original terrain and does not pursue symmetry; the steps of the stand are designed to be free fold line state, further strengthening the landscape of the site.
A new architectural volume has been hidden under the grandstand. In terms of function, it includes storage, public toilet and cafe, which can provide logistics and public supporting services for the theater. The facade of the building is composed of a series of French window openings. The wall thickness between the windows is intentionally strengthened, through which the architect hopes to give a sense of cave and respond to the history of the original quarry on the site. There are steps and ramps on both sides of the building to ensure everyone, including the elderly, children and the disabled, to enter and exit the stage area freely. The building materials are made of local traditional stone-laying construction technique, and most of the stones come from the rubbles excavated when the site was leveled. The architects adhere to the concept of sustainable construction: all materials are from the local area, and traditional technology is adopted for the facade, as sustainability of culture.
The interior area of the building is about 280 square meters. The sloping roof and irregular skylights indicate the relationship between the building and the stand, and strengthen the dramaticism of the interior. Cave, mine and industrial sense are the basic intention of interior design.
After the building was put into use, a series of country music festivals, bicycle competitions and mass cultural performances have been held there, which received positive response from the local residents and villagers.
Founded in 2012, we are an architectural design firm with supports from authoritative academic institutions incl. Central Academy of Fine Arts, Tsinghua University, and China Architectural Society. Engaged in interdisciplinary research and practice incl. urban renewal, architectural and interior design, exhibition and curatorial, lighting and art, we emphasize humanism, dialogue between history and contemporary, and interaction between natural environment and regional culture. We have been being dedicated to rural architectural design especially in undeveloped areas of China, employing methodology of micro intervene, which is widely used in typological study that allow the revival of rural villages and communities. We regard preliminary planning, construction on site, and linkage between design phrase and media communication, as an interrelated whole, and believe architectural design should go beyond self-determination, embrace relevant disciplines, and explore ways to integrate them.