About This Project

The Han Show Theater is located on the edge of Donghu Lake, Wuhan, China. It has been created by the Dalian Wanda Group as a key destination within their ‘Wuhan Central Cultural District’ development, a city-wide programme  providing waterway connections between Wuhan’s six lakes.

The ‘Red Lantern’ concept design was created by Steven Chilton Studio in 2010. Steven was commissioned by The Mark Fisher Studio, to assist them in their bid to secure the contract for the theater design. The concept was favorably received by Wanda’s Chairman and Fisher’s studio appointed in early 2011 to develop the design on the basis of the proposal. He later joined Fisher’s studio to lead the architectural design development of the theater from January 2011 until its completion in 2014.

The ‘Red Lantern’ concept was developed with reference to the humble Chinese paper lantern. Ubiquitous in Han culture, they have existed as a familiar feature of Chinese life for centuries. As objects, they are highly efficient in both material and structural terms. The tensile qualities of the paper surface work in harmony with the inner pre-stressed, circular bamboo spars, to form a simple, strong, light weight structure. Furthermore, the paper surface hosts and filters its inner light whilst protecting it from the elements.

The building is composed of 3 primary elements, the podium, auditorium and lantern. The lantern is comprised of 8 intersecting steel rings, supported by struts back to the walls of the auditorium. The rings support a series of trapezoidal cable nets, working in concert to brace the entire lantern structure. The cable-nets adopt minimal surface forms defined by an array of discreet mechanical nodes. Each node supports one of the 18,000 custom designed light fixtures, constructed from disks of pressed aluminium. The podium roof geometry is defined by the lower edge of the lantern. The profile of upwardly curving edges seeks to evoke the image of traditional Han roof forms. The irregularly spaced, slender columns support the outer edge of the roof and inner floor plates whilst recalling the hanging tassels exhibited on traditional Chinese lanterns.

The innovative auditorium accommodates 2000 spectators on 4 banks of moving seats that can reconfigure from a proscenium to an ‘in the round’ arrangement with the audience in place. The moving seats reveal a 10 meter deep performance pool containing wet/dry lifts, whilst the stage is dominated by three 6.5m x 11m movable LED screens supported on large robot arms.

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Project Title:
Han Show 'Red Lantern' Theatre


Dalian Wanda Group

2.5 Billion Chinese Yuan


Wuhan, China

Theatre, Cultural, Leisure

Concept Design Architect:
Steven Chilton Studio

Delivery Architect:
The Mark Fisher Studio

Theatre Consultant:
Theatre Projects

Local Design Institute:
Guangzhou Pearl River Foreign Investment Architectural Designing Institute co. ltd.