The Jian Li Ju Theatre in Shanghai is clad in a sleek interior that immerses visitors in contrasting shades of black and white, light and shadow. Locally based practice More Design Office (MDO) looked to the glorious melodrama of film noir in designing the theater's atmospheric interior. Completed this year, the project was recently named a Civic, Culture & Transport category finalist in this year's INSIDE: World Festival of Interiors competition, which will happen in Berlin during the World Architecture Festival this November.
MDO shared more details about their project below.
For a theater company like Jian Li Ju wherein the audience also gets to play as actors in the performances, their new space demanded a careful architectural approach to space, event, and movement, MDO says. Located on a non-descript street in central Shanghai, the theatre is accessed through a hidden entrance door at the back of an antique furniture emporium. Visitors only arrive with a time, location, and number.
A staircase leads down into the darkness, “a deliberate act of disorientation initiated by a dark curved corridor that emphasizes low-key lighting and unbalanced compositions that eventually leads to the interior spaces. The functions are organized into a linear arrangement of spaces, where the visitor is prevented from going backwards, as if following an unknown figure through the street at night,” the architects describe.
“The palette is simple throughout, with a hint of texture through the treatment of the plaster to add luster and depth to the spaces. In contrast to the threshold sequence, the first space, the lobby, is bright and lined with acoustic paneling on the walls and benches creating a closed and soft environment” to prepare visitors for the performance.
When it's time, each participant in the production enters a small changing space that is highlighted by an eerie number projected from a pinhole aperture on to the dark corridor floor. Behind heavy velvet curtains, visitors are provided with a script and change into costume as they transform into character.
Visitors then walk into a small "anti-chamber" with four asymmetric walls. A number is displayed through a magnifying glass that provides stage directions to the participating actors. After the show, visitors end their experience in the final space, a hall of mirrors.
In this type of project, “the architectural theory of Tschumi, especially the 1976 Screenplays project, is never far away and many of the formal strategies employed by MDO directly reference the parallels with screen editing and the time-space nature of architecture,” according to the architects. “Tools such as distortion, repetition and superimposition often used by the great directors of the film noir scene have all been applied as a method to soak the interior with the atmosphere of a 50s Hollywood melodrama.”
All photos courtesy of More Design Office.
Project Name: Jian Li Ju Theatre
Architecture Firm: More Design Office (MDO)
Status: Completed 2017
Size: 930 sq.m.
Address: B1, No.301 East Hongsong Road, Minhang District, Shanghai, China
Client: Jianliju Theatre Company
Photographer: Dirk Weiblen
Signage: Evelyn Chiu
Comment as :