A massive cantilevered roof with timber latticework is the highlight of the new Yang Liping Performing Arts Center in the Chinese city of Dali.

Designed by Studio Zhu Pei, the Yang Liping Performing Arts Center sits on the fertile plateau between the Cangshan mountain range and Erhai Lake in China’s Yunnan province. Architect Zhu Pei took inspiration from the native landscape to conceptualise the centre’s design, using a composition of a big canopy roof and flowing topography to invite users into an open plaza. The open plaza meets a theatre box that – when active – transforms into an interior-exterior performance space, which uses the blurred boundary between the landscape and the stage to explore and erase the boundaries between performer and spectator.

The dualism of the ancient Chinese principles of Yin and Yang comes into play here with the open plaza underneath the canopy roof activated by the outdoor amphitheatre and the indoor theatre that seamlessly flow into each other and encourage spatial interaction once the huge sliding door is opened.

The 8,155-square-metre performing arts centre houses a theatre, an amphitheatre, a rehearsal hall, a multifunction hall, a cafe, a teahouse and a restaurant as well as several office and utility spaces.

Images: Studio Zhu Pei