The Suzhou Bay Cultural Center skillfully weaves an iconic web on the shores of Lake Tai. Christian de Portzamparc discovered the deserted plain in 2013. Subsequently, as a series of emblematic projects initiated by Wujiang Lakefront Masterplan, he built a unique structure. Also as an appreciation for the future city plan. The Suzhou Bay Cultural Center’s design locks into a grid of streets and avenues bordering a central pedestrian axis streaming towards the lake. The pedestrian axis and the great lake interweaved to form the site. Then on either side of the axis, embeds the cultural center.
Spatial Segregation for the Suzhou Bay Cultural Center
The program indeed imbibes the music and performance halls on one side of the axis. Along with museums and pedagogical places abutting the other side. Two wings soar at the arrival of the pedestrian axis on the lake. Christian connected the two wings on the roof to instigate the central place. Moreover, a wide opening yells into the sky in the form of an arch. The structure marks a distinct slash from afar on the pedestrian axis.
The cultural center incorporates a 1,600-seat opera house, a 600-seat modular hall, two museums, an exhibition center, a convention center, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, and shopping malls, on a total surface area of 215,000 m² distributed along the south and north urban axis.
The Twisted Ribbon
A band of long ribbon winds, curls and twists up, channeling from one wing to another over the roof and facade wall. The design forms an “eight” figure knotting the pedestrian axis, suspended 40 meters framing the lake’s visual drama. The two ribbon loops encompass the esplanade where the pedestrian axis joins the lake. Furthermore, the central place opens to numerous cultural facilities banqueted in the two wings, facing north and south.
The Two Wings
The North wing simultaneously enters into the enormous lobby gallery, which leads to the theatre-opera house and the Chinese opera. Therefore you ascend from this gallery, it follows to the music conservatory and the 360° cinema. The esplanade’s south divides the wing into two buildings: a history museum and a city museum with educational spots, and a conference and ceremonial center.
The center vibes a new landscape by serenading the water, sky, and the city in a play of iridescent reflections. The metallic ribbon made of steel and aluminum spans over 500 meters. From the urban axis, the ballet of the ribbon observes curves and counter-curves. The intricate lines rise, shelter, and frame the sky, reminiscing the traditional theatre’s ribbons in Suzhou. Additionally, the visitors access the ballet as a walkway where the ribbon enables one to see the whole city and the lake.
The wings linked in eight by the ribbon represent duality in movement, in the form of alternating Ying and Yang. It also undertakes the theme of möbius strip for the International Congress Center in Nara, Japan, and other public spaces. Such as ribbon arches for Luanda (Uganda Cultural Center) and Nanking (competition for the Jiangsu Grand Theatre, China).