With projects like the Eysturkommuna Town Hall and The Wave, Henning Larsen has shown a particular talent for producing eye-catching projects that break the mold. It reaffirms this with the newly-opened Hangzhou Yuhang Opera, which is designed to resemble a giant piece of cracking ice on the surface of a manmade lake in China.

The building takes the form of two intersecting slopes, with a white, largely concrete facade broken up by glazing.

"The two sloped and intersecting masses of the Opera perch above an elevated public plaza, the roofs touching lightly on the ground level to invite visitors to climb up and enjoy the view," explains the press release. "Both structures are clad in a graphic facade pattern that references ice cracking on the frozen lake; moving from solid back-of-house coverage to near total transparency where it encloses the public foyers – floes of ice drifting away to reveal the bright interior.

"The different entrances to the building connect in a path around the auditorium that offers views to the lake and foyer interior. Interior balconies and staircases maximize views out across the site and within the foyer: going to the opera is about seeing and being seen."

Its 70,000 sq m (roughly 753,500 sq ft) interior houses a large theater, which is finished in bamboo and can seat up to 1,400 people, and a smaller secondary theater, which has a capacity of 500. There are also various other smaller areas and support facilities, pathways and halls.

Flexibility was a focus of the project and the stages are designed to allow different kinds of events to be held. Additionally, the smaller secondary theater can be opened up to an elevated public plaza, becoming a stage for a 10,000 capacity outdoor venue.

The landscaping is significant too. A entire new body of water named the East Lake (complementing the nearby culturally important West Lake) was created for the opera house. A promenade circles the lake and winds through small parks, including a traditional Chinese water gardens and commercial facilities.

The Hangzhou Yuhang Opera also involved Hangzhou Architectural & Civil Engineering Design Institute Co. and Buro Happold Engineering, plus Bassinet Turquin Paysage and AECOM on landscaping duties. Construction commenced back in 2016 and was completed this year.

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