The Suzhou Cultural Centre is one of a series of prestigious projects commissioned by the city as part of the Wujiang Lakefront Masterplan. As the flagship project of this brand-new locality, the city is developing a remarkable site of over 100,000 sq.m. It lies at the convergence of one of China’s most beautiful lakes and the major urban perspective of the new city.
The Cultural Centre includes a 1,600-seat Opera House, a modular 600-seat hall, a Museum (24,000 sq.m), an Exhibition Centre (18,000 sq.m), a Conference Centre (14,000 sq.m), cafés, restaurants and cinemas, as well as a 14,000 sq.m shopping centre for a total area of 202,000 sq.m distributed in South and North of the urban axis.
The initial idea of Christian de Portzamparc was to bring together the two facilities (Opera House and Museum and Conference Centre complex) in a broad North to South sweep across the site. The concept of duality in the form of complementarity is a reference to the Chinese philosophical principle of Yin and Yang, apparent here in a movement which builds on ideas explored in projects previously designed for Nara (the International Conference Center – Japan), Luanda (Uganda National Cultural Centre) and Nankin (Jiangsu Grand Theater – China).
The building blends perfectly with the scenery, joining water and sky in a play of iridescent reflections created by the double metallic strips that join the Opera House and Museum facilities.
From the urban axis, we sense the play of the metallic strip flows in curves and counter- curves. Its lines rise, shelter and frame the sky. The foyer of the Opera House and the Museum entrance form an immense window on the lake which a belvedere highlights and on which we can climb to discover the new landscape.