To China With Love

Showstopping UK design company Stufish Entertainment Architects is strutting its stuff in central China. East greets west...

BY DEE IVA

If you’re going to stage a theatrical, dramatic and spectacular show these days you’ll need a theatrical, dramatic and spectacular building. This was obviously the thinking behind the newly opened Han Show Theatre in Wuhan, China. Purpose-built to house The Han Show, a visually stunning extravaganza of acrobatics, dance, music and light by Franco Dragone, this futuristic theatre brings New World technology to the heart of a rapidly changing Old World.

It’s the handiwork of UK-based Stufish Entertainment Architects, which has made its name by creating eye-catching environments, sets and theatres for Lady Gaga, Pink Floyd, the Beijing Olympics and the UK Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Perched on the edge of Donghu Lake, the theatre resembles a giant Chinese paper lantern, bathing the western end of Wuhan’s Central Cultural District in a seductive red glow each evening. Thousands of suspended red aluminium discs form the skin of the building, each lit by a circular array of LEDs. Once inside, there’s a cavernous 2,000-seat auditorium with moveable seating, a 10-metre-deep performance pool and three larger than life moveable LED screens that make sure no detail of the show is missed.

ABOVE: The Han Show Theatre lights up the sky at night
BELOW: Slender support columns resemble the fringing on Chinese lanterns; Seating in the auditorium slides back to reveal a 10-metre-deep pool. Enormous LED screens hover behind the performers on stage.

 

Stufish has been busy on the other side of town too. To the east, overlooking Shahu Lake, another lyrical building sits waiting expectantly for cinema buffs to wander into the world’s first indoor movie theme park. Showcasing interactive performances, 4D and 5D cinema screens, and film-themed rides, the Wanda Movie Park is a state-of-the-art entertainment complex, spread over 80,000 square metres. The sinuous outline of this beautiful building is inspired by the 2,000-year-old Bianzhong Bells on display in the Hubei Provincial Museum. Each section is covered in self-cleaning golden aluminium panels echoing the grandeur of the Bianzhong in their heyday. Once again, LED lighting is wrapped around the exterior to provide a hypnotic display at night, while the glittering inner sanctum is a dazzling 21st-century Metropolis of light awash with animated LEDs across three floors. Both projects were commissioned by Beijing-based developers Dalian Wanda Group, aimed at creating waterway connections between Wuhan's six lakes.

BELOW: Glow in the dark... the amorphous Wanda Movie Park gives good silhouette; The future's so bright, Fritz Lang should be happy

 
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If these landmark additions to the Eastern skyline are anything to go by, we'll be booking our ticket on the E&O pronto...
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