The Yangliping Performing Arts Center has a pickup cap
We love the warmth of wood and our biophilic attraction to it. But the best thing about wood is that when used in the construction of buildings, it has much lower initial carbon emissions than concrete or steel. There have been some wonderful long span wooden structures built in China, such as Structurecraft Domes of Taiyuan Botanical Garden, so the new Yangliping Performing Arts Center in Dali, China looked fascinating in the V2com version.
The center, designed by Studio Zhu-Pei, is not your usual black box in a theater. Instead, it is a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces designed to “subvert people’s perception of theater and create a new concept of theater and new experiences”.
“A largely cantilevered rectangular roof spans a built-up landscape of fluid interior and exterior spaces, some of which can be combined into an interacting spatial system. As with mountains and valleys, the strong form of the roof reflects the more organic landscape below and points to the ancient Chinese principle of yin and yang, where two opposites combine to form a whole. Formally expressed as organic hills, the partially engulfed spaces transform into a landscape of natural garden, promising a high experiential quality that extends indoors to the public theater. ”
Architects tell ArchDaily: “The large, horizontally extended roof is like a large canopy. While resistant to ultraviolet rays, it also forms shadows and provides a comfortable environment for people to shade themselves and avoid the rain.”
Engineers can do amazing things with wood these days, with parametric design and sophisticated fasteners. All the photos of the Yangliping Performing Arts Center focus on the wooden structure that sits under this giant slate-covered roof – it’s very dramatic. I spent time trying to figure out how it all worked together like a truss to support the roof.
The drawings show some sort of truss but they certainly did not look like the photos.
After downloading huge TIFF files and zooming in, it becomes clear that the wood is completely decorative and hangs under what appears to be a steel roof structure.
Steel buildings often have wooden ceilings, but this is unusual in that so much wood hangs from them. Hopefully it’s treated for fire resistance or there are sprinklers, because otherwise with so much area it looks like the wood in my fireplace before I light it. Or maybe, it looks like a bunch of pickup sticks.
There is a lot to admire here in terms of innovative theater design. As the architect notes:
“This building indeed subverts our traditional cognition of the theater, constructing an alternative, porous, open and fluid theater, more precisely an art space. It does not strive to be a monument, but stages the vast landscape. natural beyond: back against Cang Mountain and facing Erhai Lake It is like a ten mile long lodge outside the ancient city, welcoming people who visit Dali.
There is also no doubt, the giant roof is spectacular and the centerpiece of the whole project. The wooden trellis under the roof completely changes the feel of it, adding tremendous warmth and character. Wood dominates the visual identity of the spaces below, but the architects never mention it, other than talking about the building as “another in-depth experimental work on the design philosophy of” the architecture of nature “.
But I keep thinking that it was such a shame that the use of wood didn’t go beyond decoration. I remember the Parasol Metropol in Seville which served a similar function, it was a demonstration of pushing the boundaries of wood as a structural material. It is a missed opportunity.