1. Site Condition


Theater of Dream was originally an important public building, a great cultural legacy for Shenzhen left by architect Cheng Zonghao.18 years after its completion, radical changes have taken place in the surrounding urban environment. Today, an urban public theater situating only 18 meters away from the residential community is bound to raise issues on urban planning. As a semi-outdoor theater, it received repeated noise complaints during performances. After stopping operation for five years, the government decided to re-launch the project, and thus Theater of Dream ushers in the moment of rebirth.

▼建筑概览,Preview © 郭靖



Theater of Dream is basically made up of a fan-shaped main building and a triangle-shaped side building. The main building is used as the grandstand, while the high-rise side building integrates stage, classrooms, offices and other subsidiary rooms. With the side building standing behind the main building as well as the dense plant cover of this tropical city, an urban public space with special character is defined.

Before renovation, as a semi-outdoor theater without climate boundary, the main building resembled a Greek amphitheater. Stepping on the highest point of the grandstand, a panoramic view of the thick vegetative-cover embracing the entire site as well as the city landscape is perceived.

▼梦工场体量关系,The Volume of Theater of Dream © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼改造前街角视点,View from the Street Corner before Renovation © 丘建筑设计事务所


II. The Strategy of Renovation

核心问题 | Critical Task



The critical task is not the discussion of a single building under the stable urban context in most European cities, but to reset the order of the site and efface historical problems left from the “incremental period” of urban planning, trying to take full advantage of this renovation opportunity to arrive at a new reconciliation of urban spaces in its “stock period”.

What calls for renovation is not only the building itself but the entire urban space bordering the building.

Left: The Grandstand before renovation; Right: The Grandstand and the City © 丘建筑设计事务所

城市敞廊 | City Loggia


The strategy of section triggers the design process. Originally the height on the highest point of the grandstand was only 4 meters, which could not satisfy the demand for professional sound and lighting equipment in a modern theater. While lifting the height of the roof, we push the climate boundary inward by introducing a continuous city loggia with a space depth that builds up a “stage-grandstand” viewing dynamic between the building and the square.

Left: A “mountain rock” sheltered by trees; Right: Section before Renovation © 丘建筑设计事务所


As the necessary route to enter the theater, the 13-meter-high public loggia is also an extension of the urban space: The loggia connects to the large stairs on both sides and extends to the square, which forms a three-dimensional public circulation in the city. In this way, the single building augments its own value by integrating urban public resources.

▼城市敞廊与植被 工作模型,City Loggia and Plant Cover (Working Model) © 丘建筑设计事务所


The 13-meter-high column sequence in the loggia spreads along the fan-shaped volume with a gesture of “standing proportion” on a solid base, which visually evokes a proper sense of gravity. Besides, the slender columns alleviate the oppression of its scale on residential buildings and delineate the relationship between architecture and “nature” in the landscape shaded by the green trees.

▼下午时刻,In the Afternoon © 郭靖


Behind the loggia, the metal curtain wall is “woven” by the negative arc-shaped stainless steel sheets and vertical mullions. The metal curtain wall incrementally mark the subtle changes of light along the frontal arc-shaped contour of the building, and renders the circular volume more sensitive in catching highlight.

▼黄昏时刻,In the Gloaming © 郭靖

▼正反弧线对光线的“积分” © 郭靖
The Ray of Light Reflected by Positive and Negative Arc


The spacing of the mullions on the curtain wall falls between the impressions of “proportion” and “pattern”. Together with the perforations on the metal sheets, they create subtle perceptual variations at different distances. Viewed from afar, the perforations are less obvious, and the partition by the column sequences and mullions give the main building a solid and affirmative image in the city; at close range, the perforations become more manifest, which form a “breathing” pattern with the relatively dense array of mullions , so as to develop a landscape-related sense of scale among the thick crown cover.

▼中景,幕墙与景观,(Medium Shot) Curtain Wall and Landscape © 郭靖

▼近处,幕墙与景观,Curtain Wall and Landscape © 郭靖


The vertical curtain wall ends up with a continuous horizontal canopy at the bottom. The 2.8-meter-high canopy creates a proper scale of human body to accommodate the coexistence of urban and human scales and thus brings a certain degree of tension.

The Corridor; Metal curtain wall; The Bowl © 郭靖


沉默的配楼 | The Silence of the Side-Building


Due to the volume position between the main and side building, the main building takes on the role of the “performer” while the side building retreats into the “background”. “A silent expression” is properly given to the side building.

▼改造前主楼与配楼关系 © 丘建筑设计事务所
The Relationship between Main and Side Building before Renovation

▼主楼与配楼关系 工作模型 © 丘建筑设计事务所
The Relationship between Main and Side Building (Working Model)


After the renovation, the whole side building is painted with granulose plaster without any indication of scale. The horizontal joints on the solid volume evokes the association to the layering of the earth. The whole volume is perceived as “hill stone” in a tropical city.

▼改造后配楼与主楼关系 © 郭靖
The Relationship between Main and Side Building after Renovation

▼改造后配楼与主楼关系(施工过程照片) © 丘建筑设计事务所
The Relationship between Main and Side Building after Renovation (Construction Site Photo)

▼改造后配楼与主楼关系(施工过程照片) © 郭靖
The Relationship between Main and Side Building after Renovation (Construction Site Photo)

▼改造后配楼,Side Building after Renovation © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼配楼与街道夹角 © 丘建筑设计事务所
Intersection Angel between Side Building and Street

▼通风孔隙,Ventilation Cells © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼改造后配楼中庭 © 丘建筑设计事务所
Atrium in Side Building after Renovation


城市中的物体与界面 | “Objects” and Interfaces in City


Due to the non-orthogonal system of its complex volume, there is no distinct boundary between the ground surface and the building. The volume rises like a cluster of “objects” breaking through the soil with a strong sense of landscape. We attempt to retain this intense feature and try to integrate these “objects” into a new order of urban space.

▼大台阶与碗体关系 – 改造前(左)和施工过程(右)© 丘建筑设计事务所
The Relationship between the Large Stairs and the Bowl before Renovation (left) & construction photo (right)



On one side of the square, we construct a new horizontal long canopy along the original flowerbed. The sharp horizontal line of the canopy engages in a dialog with the complex volume, which could be an analog to the relationship between “Pavilion” and “Stone” in traditional Chinese gardens. Meanwhile, the canopy also implies a “boundary” between the residential area and the public square.

On the other side of the square, we demolish the flower bed which initially blocked the boundary of the square, so as to allow the volumes to fully play out as “objects” in the open square.

Besides, by rotating the angle of the large stairs along the street, a more welcoming gesture to the square appears. With the flight of the new stair aligning with the curve of the Bowl on the ground level, the perception of the base is subtly changed from a self-isolated “object” to a relatively open city interface while providing smoother flow channels.

▼左:曲线山墙,碗体,配楼;右:山墙背后的直跑楼梯(施工过程)© 丘建筑设计事务所
Left: Curve Gable Wall, The Bowl, Side Building; Right: Straight Flight Stairs behind Gable Wall (Construction Site)


Starting from the square, we set out on a condensed “mountain-climbing” journey. Spatial transition initiated by various stair platform elevations gives a mountaineering experience through the interchange of light and shade and rhythmic scales, highlighting a “performing-viewing” dynamic between the building and urban space.

▼攀登空间序列,Climbing Spatial Sequence © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼9.3m敞廊标高视线(施工过程照片) © 丘建筑设计事务所
Sight on 9.3-meter-high Loggia (Construction Site Photo)

▼向城市敞开的前厅(施工过程照片) © 丘建筑设计事务所
Grand Entry Opening into the City (Construction Site Photo)

“山石”内部的空间,沿线性前厅向两侧延伸,将人流引导至过厅与楼梯厅,并在不同的标高进入整个流线的末端 —— 剧场看台空间。而原本碗体内部被弃置剩余的空间,在改造后作为夹层使用,与剧场看台空间相连。

The interior space of the “hill stone” flanks the grand entry and extends on both sides, directs the crowds to the hallway as well as stair hall, and finally guides them to access the grandstand at different elevations. The previously deserted space inside the Bowl now serves as a mezzanine after renovation and connects to the grandstand.

Untapped Mezzanine before Renovation © 丘建筑设计事务所


The spatial strategy of Theater of Dream can be understood as “hollowing-out” and “covering” among a series of landforms. Throughout the entire space, experience is accentuated by the strong indication of a “terrain”, blurring the boundary between the site and the building, retaining the intense feature of the original building, and shaping a sequential space experience in relation to the “hill stone”.

▼夹层空间 效果图,Mezzanine (rendering) © 丘建筑设计事务所


构造设计 | Construction Design



The relationship between landform and coverage is revealed at the tree crown opening facing the street corner, forming a “face” of the building towards the city, also deemed as its most critical viewing point. Here the proportional relationship between the loggia and the base is emphasized.

In the semi-outdoor loggia, rainwater on the floor is drained off to the drainage channel lining the edge of the Bowl. Taking advantage of this construction opportunity, handrails and lampposts are integrated to develop a proportional hierarchy. All vertical construction elements are fixed in front of the 400-millimeter-high horizontal drainage. Making use of this front-and-back visual effect, the proportion between the loggia and the base exceeds 1:1 in frontal view, thus enabling the main building a more public gesture viewed from the city corner.

▼改造后城市转角视点,View from City Corner after Renovation © 郭靖

▼柱跨内的次级比例,Hierarchical Relation between Columns © 郭靖


The design of the metal curtain wall also works in concert with the overall architectural intention. The height of stainless steel sheets on the curtain wall scales up from bottom to top by means of four modules. Through scale gradations as well as interlaced laying method, a sense of draping is introduced to the interface, which reinforces the impression of the “float” of metal “objects”, and renders the design strategy of “landform and coverage” more explicit to the public.

Curtail Wall (Construction Site Photo) © 丘建筑设计事务所


The chic ginkgo-leaf pattern stems from the fan-shaped Bowl, which repeat in the details of the curtain wall and floor pattern. The distinctive geometry of the Bowl is also converted to a recognizable geometric motif to arrive at a unified architectural language. As for construction design usually dealt with at the end of the design process, it is not treated as an isolated process but fully utilized to support the overall and consistent control of the design process, from urban strategies to details.

▼银杏状穿孔图案,Ginkgo-leaf Pattern © 郭靖

▼穿孔不锈钢板 材料样品
Perforated Stainless Steel Sheets (Sample) © 丘建筑设计事务所


巴洛克化 | Baroque Expressions



In today’s heterogeneous urban environment, the complexity of its volumes also gives rise to the intricate relation of its exterior space. Certain methods are required to rearrange the spatial order into a specific architectural language.

Viewed from the street corner, the curving edge at the top of the metal curtain wall stands aloof from the wall behind. The two edges are unparallel curves with one above the other, which almost converge at the street corner and gradually diverge along the streets on both sides. A gradual “crown” appears at the top of the metal curtain wall, stretching the arc-shaped contour in relation to the street corner.

▼渐变的城市“皇冠”,Gradual City “Crown” © 丘建筑设计事务所

© 郭靖


In addition, the arc-shaped contours of the metal curtain wall, the canopy and the Bowl are not entirely concentric. The curtain wall is closest to the Bowl at the point west of the main entrance of the theater while gradually withdrawing and setting itself further apart from the Bowl towards the east end. The adjustment of the contours creates dynamic scale of space and provides spatial direction.

▼金属幕墙轮廓的收分,The Contrast between Two Arcs of Metal Curtain Wall © 丘建筑设计事务所


Through the “correction” of the arc-shaped contours, the dynamics between the 13-meter-high loggia and the 2.8-meter-high canopy transforms in progression, which transition from the “horizontal” facing the street corner to the “vertical” echoing the high-rise side building. The heterogeneous urban textures are hence internalized into spatial perception and translated into direct physical experience. Relying on these subtle baroque expressions, the renovated Theater of Dream has fulfilled its transformation from a “city monument” to an “urban architecture”.

▼底层平面图(配楼内部非本次改造区域) © 丘建筑设计事务所
Ground Floor Plan (inside Side Building; not Included in this Renovation)

▼二层平面图,Second Floor Plan © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼夹层平面图,Mezzanine Plan © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼三层平面图,Third Floor Plan © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼剖面图,Section © 丘建筑设计事务所

▼敞廊墙身,Loggia in Section © 丘建筑设计事务所



特别鸣谢:周红玫,董功,福田规土委,福田文体中心,梦工场馆方,福田工务署,福田住建局,吴向辉(奥雅纳),林海(奥雅纳),张晓岚(华东院声学所),张震(第伍建筑),张准,孙国胜(禾弗乐),杨立荣(SKK),赖泊序(NOVACOLR),Michel Cova(Michel Cova Consultant)