Steven Chilton Architects (SCA) has submitted a design for consideration for a new theatre in Guangzhou, China, and it’s extraordinary. Inspired by ancient Chinese puzzle balls carved from ivory, the building will be characterised by a set of intricately designed, interlocking concrete panels.

This Theatre Proposal is Inspired by Ancient Chinese Puzzle Balls

Dubbed the ‘Puzzle Ball Theatre’, the SCA proposal is designed to recall the intricately decorated ornaments which are made of concentric spherical layers carved from a single piece of ivory. Traditionally made by master carvers, the ancient puzzle balls are only solved when each sphere is rotated so all of the holes align.

The effect of the puzzle is demonstrated at the 2,000-seat theatre’s entrances which will be surrounded by layers of staggered circular openings that get smaller and smaller until the exterior meets the interior. The overlapping panels will be carved with Rhombus and trapezoid-shaped designs, referencing local wooden window shutters.


The main frame of the theatre will be constructed with steel, while its spherical form will be covered in the panels which will be made of fibreglass-reinforced concrete. These cladding panels will provide a protective layer for the aluminium panels and glazing underneath.


Inside the Puzzle Ball Theatre, daylight will flood through to the lobby thanks to gaps in the centre of the panels around the entrance. Towards the top of the dome, the facade will be more closed to prevent solar gain and keep the theatre cool during performances.

Check out more of SCA’s projects over at their Website.


In other design news, one of the world’s most renowned architect firms, Zaha Hadid Architects, has been selected to build sections of a new ‘smart city’ in Russia which is set to become ‘a global benchmark for smart, sustainable cities.’



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