Steven Chilton Architect has recently revealed the design of Guangzhou Show Theatre and it’s as whimsical as it gets with the region’s native ties to the exquisite fabric, the design is inspired to evoke the texture and the apparel of Chinese silk in both their form and aesthetics as a key part of the Silk Road trading route. Located in the Huado District of Guangzhou in Southern China the 2000 seat theatre is to accommodate a variety of visiting production companies and will become a major attraction point. The building is also said to house a permanent water show by Franco Dragone, the famous Belgian theatre director. The construction is well underway and is due to open in December 2020.

Visuals of silk-informed theatre in Guangzhou revealed by Steven Chilton Architects - Sheet1
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design         

Chinese silk is famous for its exquisite texture and its rich historical significance. Silk was first developed in China dated back to 3630 BC when it was used to wrap the body of a child from the Yangshao culture site in Henan. Due to the beauty of silk’s texture, it became an important material for pre-industrial international trade to the extent that the major routes between Europe and Asia were named the Silk Road. Guangzhou is the birthplace of the Silk Road on the sea and has always been an important trading port.

The form unfolds the building by Steven Chilton Architects like a tapestry of the fabric with its folding and flowing motion that can be seen in the façade which resembles the silk scarf draping over the building. The building appears to be composed of ten gently curving and twisting folds in the plan. Entrances take a dramatic look as they are formed by a seamless continuation of the silk-like material as it is ‘tucked’ into the ground level. The inset walls in various entrances are protected by natural canopies composed of the same silk-like material as it overhangs before tucking in to meet and define the outer edges.

Visuals of silk-informed theatre in Guangzhou revealed by Steven Chilton Architects - Sheet2
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design
Visuals of silk-informed theatre in Guangzhou revealed by Steven Chilton Architects - Sheet3
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design

Spread in a total of 25,000 sq. m. the circular main auditorium will be at the center of the building with different spaces surrounding it which include a triple-height entrance hall. 

Visuals of silk-informed theatre in Guangzhou revealed by Steven Chilton Architects - Sheet4
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design
Visuals of silk-informed theatre in Guangzhou revealed by Steven Chilton Architects - Sheet5
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design
Visuals of silk-informed theatre in Guangzhou revealed by Steven Chilton Architects - Sheet6
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design

The form of the building taken on the physical characteristics of something as free as a scarf. The skin of the structure consists of three layers- the primary structure is of a network of painted steel rails, the secondary waterproofing layer is of single curved panels of perforated anodized aluminum, and the tertiary rain screen cladding surface. The whole structure is a prime example of technology used for the complex geometry of the design. 

Sheet7
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design
Sheet8
Silk – informed Theatre ©www.sca.design

The classic red and gold color combination gives a mixed style of both modern and historic silk garments and also attracts pleasing attention. The dominant red color is used for its richness and depth with its various subtle shades and textures. The darker hues are used to emphasize the folds that are facing downwards and also areas that are shadowed as the sun rises. The south side façade is cladded and covered in predominantly gold-colored anodized aluminum panels to reflect the harsh heat impact away from the interior of the building.

Steven Chilton is a London-based architect known for his enigmatic designs all around the world. Founded in 2015 the studio is commonly known for the designs of London Eye, Han Show Red Lantern Theatre in Wuhan China, and ‘Satellites’ recent runner-up for UK Pavilion Expo 2020. The studio has also designed a domed-shaped Ivory Puzzle Theatre in Guangzhou, China along with the recently finished Wuxi Taihu Show Theatre in Wuxi, China. The group is known for its creative use of technology in cultural architecture that seeks to embrace, captivate, and surprise.

The design is an example of ‘alien architecture’ as it stuns the onlookers amidst being at the tip of the city’s notorious pollution. It delights in the equal measure of the opposite virtues as it visualizes a dialogue between the building and its surroundings without any urban beautification making it emphasize the ‘silk’ and inspires the epitome of luxury in clothing and the history of the material. 

The design is exquisite and luster exactly like the free-flowing silk and one of the great examples of innovative architecture that meets the demand of the culture and its surroundings. 

Ashmita Gupta
Author

Ashmita Gupta is an Architecture student who believes art is the medicine of life. A book sniffer and an indie music addict, she is often driven with curiosity and hence finds her thrill in art and literature.

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