Architecture Culture Landscape architecture Public Institution

Cultural institution in China by Studio Zhu-Pei mimics the surrounding mountainous landscape with a widely cantilevered roof

September 13, 2021

Beijing-based Studio Zhu-Pei has designed the Yangliping Performing Arts Center in the city of Dali in China. Situated between the Cang mountain chain, rising 4,000 meters in height, and 40 kilometer-long Lake Erhai, the city of Dali was a significant stop on the ancient tea and horse road, and is now an important tourism destination. The old town has largely been preserved and still has some remains of the historic city wall and gate towers.

Inspired by the powerful surrounding landscape, architect Zhu Pei, Dean, and a professor, of the Central Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture, a visiting professor at Harvard University, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, searched for landscape-related references to solve the architectonic challenges for the Performing Arts Center. A widely cantilevered rectangular roof spans across a built landscape of free-flowing indoor and outdoor spaces, some of which can be combined as an interacting spatial system.

As with mountains and valleys, the strong shape of the roof reflects the more organic landscape below and points to the old Chinese principle of yin and yang, where two opposites combine together to form a whole. Formally expressed as organic-shaped hills, the partly sunken spaces transform into a natural garden landscape, promising a high experiential quality that extends inside to the public theatre.

Project details:

Theatre; Amphitheater; Rehearsal hall / Multi-functions hall; Café/Tea/Restaurant; Design shop; Office; Loading and back of house function.

Design: 2014-2015

Year of completion: 2020

Area: 8,155m2

Architecture, Interior and Landscape Design: Studio Zhu-Pei

Design Principal: Zhu Pei

Lead Designer: Edwin Lam, Shuhei Nakamura

Project in Charge: Virginia Melnyk

Design Team: You Changchen, Han Mo, He Fan, Liu Ling, Wu Zhigang, Gary Poon, Ke Jun, Wang Peng, Wang Zheng, Ding Xinyue, Feng Chaoying, Chen Yida, Han Yi, Lin Wendi, Du Yao


Theater: dUCKS scéno, Creative Solution Integration LTD.

Structure: Professor Fu Xueyi, Master of National Engineering Survey and Design


Facade: Shenzhen Dadi Facade Technology CO., LTD.

Lighting: Ning Field Lighting Design CO., LTD.

Acoustic: China IPPR International Engineering CO., LTD.

Client: Dali Yang Liping Grand Theatre Co., LTD

Construction: The Third Construction CO., LTD. of YCIH

Photography: Jin Weiqi, Zhang Yao

See the full image gallery here:

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