Sculpted Light | New Shanghai Theater

Sculpted Light | New Shanghai Theater

Occupying the site of a former theatre dating from the 1930s, the existing building had undergone a series of renovations over the decades, during which much of the original character and architectural detail had been stripped away. The resulting building as we found it had become a pastiche of various styles and programmatic uses. As such, the primary design challenge was to recall the clarity and unity of the historic building in all its grandeur, while creating an architecture that would not only be relevant today, but have the potential to become a lasting and significant landmark in modern Shanghai.

From the street, the building reads as a heavy stone volume hovering just above ground level, lodged firmly between its neighbours, it announces its presence unabashedly. Encased entirely in stone, the upper two floors relinquish any outwardly visible openings in favor of vertically carved apertures.

Drawing inspiration from the theatrical acts which take place within, the carved spaces of the interior and exterior atriums were conceptualized as series of dramatic scenes; scenes of varying spatial and lighting configurations are experienced as one moves throughout the space, intensifying as one explores deeper into the building. Several apertures takes advantage of the changing light conditions throughout the day to create an ever-changing and dynamic environment while supplemental evening lighting mimics these conditions for added drama.

To guide theatre goers into the building, fluted bronze walls—reminiscent of a theatre curtain cloaking the drama of the main stage behind it—provide a sense of weightlessness in contrast to the heaviness of the stone above. The entry and ticketing area are recessed back from the pedestrian walkway in order to create a covered plaza that is not only a shelter from the elements, but gives public space back to the street and begins to blur the boundaries of public and private. As such, the public at large, or any casual passerby, is permitted to glimpse and experience part of the building’s theatricality, with or without a ticket.

Gross Area
845 m²


Completion Date
November 2016

October 2012 – November 2016

1186 Middle Fuxing Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai

FRAME Awards 2018, by FRAME Magazine, NetherlandsNew Shanghai Theatre, SPATIAL AWARDS: Institutions - Governmental Interior of the Year, Winner
archilovers Best Project 2017, by archilovers website New Shanghai Theatre
Best of Year Awards 2017, by Interior Design Magazine, New York, USA New Shanghai Theatre, Commercial Lobby Category, Winner
A&D Trophy Awards 2017, by Perspective Limited, Hong Kong, China New Shanghai Theatre, Best Institutional / Public Space Category in Architecture, Certificate of Excellence
Asia Pacific Interior Design Awards 2017, by Hong Kong Interior Design Association, Hong Kong, China New Shanghai Theatre, Public Space Category, Silver
World Architecture Festival 2017, Berlin, GermanyNew Shanghai Theatre, Culture - Completed Buildings Category, Highly Commended
Blueprint Awards 2017, by Blueprint Magazine, London, UK New Shanghai Theatre, Best Public-use Project - with Public Funding Category, Commended
The Plan Award 2017, THE PLAN MagazineNew Shanghai Theatre, Culture Category, Finalist
Architizer A+ Awards 2017, Architizer WebsiteNew Shanghai Theatre, Hall/Theater Category, Finalist