Inspired by the sails of the boats that used to sail in and out of the town’s harbour, the project is intended to symbolise the city’s history as one of the principal cities on the Silk Road. Drawing on the ancient local tradition of blue and white ceramics, all the buildings have an exterior structure of metal arms set 1.80 m apart to permit inclusion of decorative white ceramic elements measuring 1.75 m long on the façade, creating the light, dynamic, broken-up look the architects were aiming for.
The two theatres forming the heart of the project stand out for the originality of the decorative ceramics covering them: one with tiny little tiles shaped like peonies in different shades of blue, put together in a hexagonal pattern all along the rounded inner walls, and another with white geometric ceramic elements picking up on the two-tone colour scheme typical of the Ming and Quing ceramics for which the area was famous in the past.
The idea behind the project is to reveal the city’s cultural roots to the world and demonstrate that the buildings’ innermost skin is made of glass, with elements made long enough to exploit their elasticity, however limited. They are laid with a double curve, obtained with use of sealant to guarantee seal along the edges.
Numerous acoustic tests were conducted in the laboratory, as decorative ceramic has a powerful capacity for reverberation and very little absorbency, and therefore had to be carefully calibrated for use in a theatre. The results are appreciable both in the blue theatre, with its curved shapes and internal solids and hollows created by the boxes, and in the white theatre with its diamond-shaped internal elements, revealing that ceramic is a material appropriate for use even in such complex projects.