The Encore Mount Wutai Theatre lies outside of the south entrance of the Wutai Mountain scenic area and on the open ground before two hills. Because the need of large-scale situational performances, the theatre space is a large space that is 131 meters long, 75 meters wide and 21.5 meters high. The 730-meter-long and slowly unfolding “Sutra Folds” is located in front of the theatre, and the scriptures of the A vatamsaka Sutra, the “king of sutras”, are inscribed on the Folds.
The seven “Sutra Folds” are arranged to form a gradually opening order from high to low and become the prelude of the theatre performance. No sooner does the audience enter the “Sutra Folds” than the performance begins – the theatre is just like a vast sutra slowly opening before the view of the audience. Therefore, the exclusive theatre of “Encore Mount Wutai” is a theatre extending from outdoors to indoors.
Both the “Sutra Folds” and the theatre adopt appearances with different materials, including stone material, glass, stainless steel and other materials. Through the reflection and transmission characteristics of these materials, the dimensions are broke down into undulating patterns of different dimensions, in varying degrees reflecting their surrounding environment, blue skies, white clouds, mountains, trees, as well as the audience there.
All things seem between tangible and intangible, to the great extent counteract the contours of the structure, and remove the pressure of the structural dimensions on the surrounding environment. The “lifted up” parts of the “Sutra Folds” create the passage for tourists to pass, display the detailed construction of Chinese traditional wooden architecture, and suggest the cultural environment in which the structure is situated.
Just like what the architect ZHU Xiaodi said, “this is a structure of indescribable shapes and at the same time one that is disappearing; this is a structure that can be listened to and also a structure that people can have a dialogue with; this is a structure reflecting the history and also one looking into the future. This is not a structure but a place that wisdom can be inspired.”
Among the undulating waves of the “Sutra Folds”, the audience can stop to meditate and have a dialogue with the space and situations, through which they stimulate their psychological and spiritual experience. The light and shadow change of a rock or a wood on the ground records the passing of time and the cycle of life, letting people discard the distracting thoughts of the world, broaden their vision and mind, and perceive the wisdom of the Buddha. This not only brings sensory shocks, but also brings about the speculation of the spectators. And on the peripheral areas hang wind-bells. They ring and reverberate among mountains, just as Buddha hymns.
Architects: BIAD-ZXD ARCHITECTS
Location: Encore Mount Wutai Theater, Xinzhou City, Shanxi Province, China
Category: Theaters & Performance
Lead Architects: Xiaodi Zhu
Design Team: Bo Gao, Wen Luo, Fanjin Kong, Qi Jia
Area: 13949.0 m2
Project Year: 2014
Photographs: Xing Fu, Yong Zhu, Xiangdong Wang
Client: Mount Wutai Administration
Project description courtesy of architects