Zhuhai Opera House
Beijing Architectural Design and Research Institute
Xiangzhou Bay, China
Zhuhai Opera House, designed by architect Chen Keshi, held its first performances in December 2016.
The new opera house comprises a 1,550-seat concert hall and 500-seat theatre, located on an island at Xiangzhou close to Macau and Hong Kong. The performance venues are each housed within architecturally striking shell shaped forms, which at 90 and 60 metres tall, are visible from afar.
Marshall Day Acoustics designed the room acoustics of the performance spaces, working in close collaboration with the Beijing based architects.
Key Challenge: Creating Acoustically Flexible Performance Spaces
Both performing arts venues are designed to attract performers from both traditional Chinese and Western traditions, and to suit a range of amplified and unamplified performance styles. The key challenge for our team was how to create a flexible acoustic environment, that is not only simple enough to reconfigure quickly between performances, but also integrates seamlessly with the interior architecture. Being involved in the design process from the concept stage was key in meeting these design challenges successfully.
The Design Process
The concepts for the interiors were workshopped with the design team before the acoustic design was developed further, using advanced 3D modelling and acoustic prediction software.
The Opera House
The main auditorium has been designed for uncompromised natural acoustics to suit unamplified Opera. The space also supports orchestral performances through the use of the stage shell, which has been designed to blend continuously with the side wall surfaces to provide the audience with exceptional acoustic envelopment. When the auditorium is required for amplified performances, the room acoustics can be adjusted using operable drapes. As part of a novel design solution, the drapes have been hidden from view, stored in the ceiling void, above a striking acoustically transparent ceiling. As expected for a venue of this scale, the Opera House has also been fully equipped with the staging and technical infrastructure necessary to support the required range of performances, which will include Opera, Musical Theatre, Ballet and Symphony Orchestra.
The Small Theatre is suited to intimate performances of chamber music, spoken theatre and amplified performances. The stage floor is flexible, allowing a wide variety of configurations to suit the creative presentation of theatre and events such as conferences and fashion shows.
The attention to architectural and acoustic detail continues into the rehearsal space. The two rooms provide world class facilities for performers for the preparation for Opera, Dance and a range of Music performances.
The commissioning measurements were performed using IRIS, Marshall Day’s 3D Acoustic Impulse Response Measurement and Visualisation System. The Development of the IRIS system was recently awarded the Hugh Vivian Taylor Award by the Australian Association of Acoustical Consultants, which recognises excellence in providing innovation, promoting consulting and advancing the field of acoustics. The real benefit of using IRIS is that it is an excellent problem solving tool which identifies acoustic anomalies in a visual way that is easily understood by everyone in the design team; not just acousticians. On our projects, IRIS has become a very effective tool for communication.
An Ambitious Programme
Zhuhai Opera House is the largest performance venue in southern Guandong province and there are plans to present 100 performances a year in the opera house and 80 performances a year in the Small Theatre.