When you're one of the world's top symphony orchestras, it's only right that you should play in one of the world's best concert halls. That was the basis upon which MAD Architects worked when designing a new translucent, glowing, lotus-flower-inspired home for the China Philharmonic Orchestra.
The China Philharmonic Concert Hall isn't the first concert hall MAD has created, or, indeed, its first in China. Last year, the Harbin Opera House was completed in the northeast of the country. Covering 850,000 sq ft (78,967 sq m), its undulating form full of organic curves is recognizable as a MAD design.
With the China Philharmonic Concert Hall, we see another common element of MAD's vernacular, in the form of large transparent or translucent expanses. The building is enveloped by a huge, opaque façade.
MAD tells New Atlas that the façade is formed of ceramic fritted glass, with 90 percent opaqueness and light transmission of 60-70 percent. This will allow light to flow in and fill the building during the day, reducing the potential for overheating and the need for artificial lighting. At night, its translucency will make the structure "light up as a lantern."
Located in the Central Business District of Beijing, the 11,600-sq m (124,900-sq ft) building is designed to be a state-of-the-art concert hall home for the orchestra, but also to be a calm sanctuary for its visitors. MAD likens the façade to a piece of jade emerging from the ground and suggests that entering the building will be like entering an installation of light and space.
"We wanted to create a pure and sacred oasis in the midst of the bustling city," explains MAD Architects founder and principal partner Ma Yansong in a press release. "From the moment you enter the building, you will be taken to another time and space."
The concert hall was designed in collaboration with acoustic expert Yasuhisa Toyota, who has worked on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Philharmonie de Paris, and the Suntory Hall in Japan. Its main auditorium will seat 1,600 people on "vineyard style" terraces surrounding the stage area.
White "petals" mounted on the ceiling will be employed to reflect sound and will also be used for displaying choreographed lighting and projections. They are designed, and will be arranged, in such a way as to give the ceiling the look of a lotus flower and MAD suggests that dappled light shining between the petals from a skylight above will give the sense of being sat in a blooming flower.
A second auditorium that seats 400 will be used for smaller concerts or rehearsals. Its design features curved wooden walls chosen for their acoustic properties and a "sound reflection panel" located behind the stage. The position of this will be adjustable and it will be possible to raise the panel so as to allow natural light into the space from a window behind and to provide views of outside.
Elsewhere the building will house a recording studio, a library, a collection gallery, offices and rehearsal rooms, among other spaces. Outside, it will be surrounded by greenery and, appropriately, a lotus pond.
Construction of the China Philharmonic Concert Hall is due to begin later this year and is expected to be completed in 2019.