Keys for Harbin Grand Theatre


The concept of the Harbin Grand Theatre is to design a building that disappears from the horizon; it is designed to think beyond the traditional façade, boundaries, site and relationships of architecture and instead blurs the boundaries completely. The Grand Theatre’s form is a shaped hyperbolic design with a smooth and dynamic curved surface that resembles the river that surrounds it. In summer, it floats along the river like a silver ribbon; in winter, its silvery-white exterior blends into the winter snowscape, and stands like a snow sculpture shaped by the river breeze.


The random, fluid shape of the Harbin Grand Theatre is not a geometric form with calculation rules to be found, nor can any part of the geometry be applied, so how to determine this structural system is a great challenge. After many rounds of discussion, research and comparison, the engineers finally decided to adopt a structural system combining various forms of steel structures, optimising the original irregular model into a symmetrical form with the large and small theatres as the centreline respectively, which is the two thematic buildings of the Grand Theatre seen today.


The shape of this building continues the surrounding landscape, with a free curved facade composed of white aluminum panels, forming a skin-like breathing architectural skin. Through computer optimization design, the grid of the exterior decorative aluminum plate is fitted with a quadrilateral plate, and the optimized size of the grid of about 1,000 mm is determined, and more than 30,000 aluminum decorative plates are finally formed.


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