Situated between the Cang mountain chain which reaches 4,000 meters in height, and the 40 kilometers long Lake Erhai, the city of Dali, a significant stop of the ancient tea and horse road, is an important tourism destination. The old town has largely preserved and still has some remains of the historic city wall with gate towers.
Inspired by the powerful surrounding landscape, Zhu Pei searched for landscape related references to solve the architectonic challenges for the Performing Arts Center. A widely cantilevered rectangular roof spans across a built landscape of free-flowing indoor and outdoor spaces, some of which can be combined as an interacting spatial system.
As with mountains and valleys, the strong shape of the roof reflects the more organic landscape below and points to the old Chinese principle of yin and yang, where two opposites form a whole together. Formally expressed as organic-shaped hills, the partly sunken spaces become like a natural garden landscape, promising a high experiential quality, which continues into the public theatre inside.
The flat middle garden, much like a city junction, is the intersection between all suspended pedestrian bridges, which invites the city in and eventually connects the remaining business floors and bazaars. This garden acts as the project’s main connection hub and is the promenade ultimately enabling circulation between the project and the bridges. The public garden floors, much like the bridges, extend available views, improving the relationship between business units and visitors.