MAD Architects has been commissioned to produce a new theater in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, China. The building will be located on the banks of a river and its design is inspired by traditional local boats, complete with glass "sails" that serve as a canopy.

The Yiwu Grand Theater will measure 95,290 sq m (roughly 1 million sq ft) and consist of the grand theater, with a capacity of 1,600, a second theater with 1,200 seats, and a conference center seating 2,000 people.

The project will feature considerable landscaping, including tree-lined footbridges, an amphitheater, and a large open plaza that extends to the water. Terraces will also offer choice views and areas of quiet contemplation.

"Positioned with the mountains in the distance as its backdrop, and the water as its stage, MAD's design responds to its locale, and appears as a boat, floating on the river," says MAD Architects. "It is defined by a layering of glass sails that are reminiscent of the Chinese junks that once transported goods across the waters, while their subtle curves echo the Jiangnan-style eaves of the ancient vernacular architecture that is typical of the region.

"The transparency and lightness of the glass express the texture of thin, silky fabric, creating a dynamic rhythm that makes them appear as if they are blowing in the wind. They act as a protective canopy around the building, resonating with the river, elegantly floating above the water's surface, setting a romantic atmosphere. "

MAD Architects also says that the Yiwu Grand Theater's glazed facade will produce a greenhouse-like warming effect, helping to heat the building naturally in winter. During summer, when the interior gets too hot, ventilation systems will be used.

The project was chosen following an architecture competition and is due to begin construction sometime in 2020. We've no word on its expected completion date at this early stage.

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