Stage and natural show in Yangshuo



Yangshuo, Guilin, Guangxi, China,



The Chinese design firm IILab. has completed the new architecture for the natural backdrop of the open-air theatre hosting the musical called “Impression of Liu Sanjie” in Yangshuo, Guilin, known for its stunning landscape. The bamboo constructions are environmentally-friendly and emphasise the connection with the context.

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Stage and natural show in Yangshuo Impression of Liu Sanjie” is a musical directed by the world-renowned Zhang Yimou. The night-time event combines music and light, ethnic dancing and singing, using the Li River and dramatic mountains surrounding the area as a natural stage and backdrop.
The musical tells the story of Liu Sanjie, a local girl with an incredible voice, and her journey to love through numerous obstacles. It has been running now for 15 years, and the existing constructions of the open-air theatre needed some additional work. The creative team from the Chinese design firm IILab. came up with a solution that took into account the existing structures as well as the local vegetation, for the most part, bamboo. 
Right now, the night-time show entertains guests in two separate areas, each one at each end of the site, namely the entrance and pagoda where guests arrive, and the main stage located on the banks of the Li River at the other end. However, very little interaction occurs between these two points. 
For this reason, the designers from IILab. proposed introducing two new elements to this middle ground. The first addition is woven bamboo lantern structures, scattered where guests circulate, to guide and raise the curiosity of the patrons. Instead, the other is a stretch of woven canopy winding through the stands of bamboo, and providing a walkway sheltered from the regular rainfall. In both of these, the architectural action is entrusted to bamboo and its constant referral to the site. The 140-metre-long canopy is held up by a maze of pipes, camouflaged by the natural bamboo growing around them. From underneath, the woven canopy looks like an undulating landscape with the texture of giant lanterns.
Using the sustainable material sourced right on the site and respecting local plantings, the designers have also created eye-catching decorative effects during the day and at night. When daylight streams into the construction, it crafts a dancing play of light and shade underneath, livening the pathway as well as protecting the rehearsing actors from the direct sun. Then at night, the lighting incorporated into the canopy delivers a light show that, in fact, references the image of the lantern.
The Bamboo Bamboo project by IILab. for the site of the musical “Impression of Liu Sanjie” pays homage both to the local culture and to the theatrical spirit of the show. The idea of the artistic performance springs forth through many parts of the project, with the woven bamboo playing off the weaving of the hands, for a mutual tension. The topography of the canopy top seems to lightly dance around the columns of bamboo. Even the pathway under the structure takes on a new value, preparing the guests for the audiovisual show they will be enjoying at the end of the canopy. Taken together, all of these architectural actions crafted by IILab. create a unique immersive experience where architecture and nature mix with art, from the moment you enter the location.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: llLab. (https://www.lllab.net/)
Project Location: Yangshuo, Guilin, China
Year: 2020
Images: Arch-Exist Photography