|Tongji Architectural Design
|Suzhou Culture and Expo Centre
|Suzhou Symphony Orchestra
The horseshoe shaped Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre opened in 2007 and contains a large theatre, cinemaplex, cafe, and many smaller classroom and exhibition spaces. Its newest tenant is the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, a burgeoning orchestra made up of young, international musicians.
A full-sized stage with flexible riser layout accommodates a full orchestra that can extend seamlessly into the chorus area. Constructed into the shell of a former expo space, the hall manages to hold just over 500 people over three levels for chamber concerts. The adjacent rehearsal wing contains 16 practice spaces of various sizes.
Tongji Architectural Design, based in nearby Shanghai, drew inspiration from the traditional patterns and materials of the 2,500-year-old city of Suzhou. Concentric ellipses mimic swaths of silk enveloping the audience and acoustically diffusive fan shapes adorn the walls. To avoid negative focusing effects associated with concave forms, we opted for acoustically transparent steel meshes to shape the visual impression: interlocking coils form the balcony front and false walls while a woven grid hides the structural beams that support the canopy.