area 154 | acoustic temples

architect: MAD Architects

location: Harbin, China

Embedded within Harbin‘s wetlands, the Harbin Opera House was designed in response to the force and spirit of the northern city‘s untamed wilderness and frigid climate. Appearing as if sculpted by wind and water, the building seamlessly blends in with nature and the topography – a transfusion of local identity, art, and culture. On the exterior, the architecture references the sinuous landscape of the surrounding area.

photo by Adam Mørk

The resulting curvilinear façade composed of smooth white aluminum panels becomes the poetry of edge and surface, softness and sharpness. Upon entering the grand lobby, visitors will see large transparent glass walls spanning the grand lobby, visually connecting the curvilinear interior with the swooping façade and exterior plaza.

photo by Hufton+Crow

Comprised of glass pyramids, the surface alternates between smooth and faceted. Presenting a warm and inviting element, the grand theater is clad in rich wood, emulating a wooden block that has been gently eroded away. Sculpted from Manchurian Ash, the wooden walls gently wrap around the main stage and theater seating.

typology: opera house
building area: 850,000 square feet
building height: 184 feet
grand theater capacity: 1,600 seats
small theater capacity: 400 seats
directors: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
architect: MAD Architects
client: Harbin Songbei Investment and Development Group Co., Ltd.
associate engineers: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD) Institute No.3
landscape architect: Beijing Turenscape Institute
interior design: MAD Architects, Shenzhen Keyuan Construction Group Co., Ltd.
acoustics consultants: Acoustic and Theater Special Design & Research Studio of East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI)
photos: Hufton + Crow, Adam Mørk