Aqua Harmonics: MAD's Vision for Guangdong's Cultural Marvel

Nanhai Arts Centre
Nanhai Arts CentreImage Source: Arch20


Beijing-based MAD Architects unveils a visionary design for the Nanhai Arts Centre in Foshan, Guangdong. Spanning 120,000 sq m, the cultural complex integrates a 1,500-seat theater, a museum, and a sports center beneath a captivating 57m-high rippling roof inspired by the lakeside locale. Rooted in regional traditions, MAD incorporates green features such as solar panels and rainwater collection. The translucent ETFE roof allows natural light, reducing energy consumption. With curved timber structures and striking public spaces, this project is a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, set to transform Guangdong's cultural landscape.


In the heart of Foshan, Guangdong, MAD Architects envisions a cultural marvel that transcends architectural boundaries. The Nanhai Arts Centre, a sprawling 120,000 sq m complex, is poised to redefine the city's cultural landscape. With a seamless integration of a 1,500-seat theater, a museum, and a sports center, the architectural prowess of MAD takes center stage.

The design, a manifestation of founder Ma Yansong's visionary approach, draws inspiration from the region's traditions. What sets this project apart is not just its functional elements but the harmonious blend of contemporary design with a deep respect for cultural roots. The centerpiece of the design is a 57m-high rippling roof that mirrors the undulating beauty of the nearby lakeside.

A key feature of the Nanhai Arts Centre is its commitment to sustainable and green practices. Solar panels harness the power of the sun, contributing to the energy needs of the complex. A sophisticated rainwater collection system ensures responsible water usage, adding an eco-friendly dimension to the architectural spectacle.

The roof, a translucent marvel crafted from ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene), not only serves an aesthetic purpose but also allows natural light to permeate the interiors. This strategic use of translucent material not only enhances the visual appeal but also significantly reduces the need for artificial lighting and heating during the winter months.

Internally, the complex takes shape with curved timber members intricately forming structural grids. This innovative use of timber adds warmth and a touch of nature to the interiors, creating an inviting atmosphere for visitors. MAD Architects, known for pushing the boundaries of conventional design, brings this ethos to the Nanhai Arts Centre, creating an environment that seamlessly marries aesthetics with functionality.

As a testament to the collaborative spirit of architectural innovation, the project's contractor is Foshan Nanhai Liyayuan Real Estate Development, with Tongji Architectural Design as the executive architect and Earthasia, a Shanghai-based firm, serving as the landscape consultant.

Anticipation builds as work on the Nanhai Arts Centre is set to commence this year, with completion expected in 2029. This ambitious timeline reflects the dedication and expertise of the collaborative forces behind this cultural masterpiece.


MAD Architects' Nanhai Arts Centre emerges as a symbol of architectural brilliance and cultural revival. As Foshan's skyline prepares for a transformative addition, the harmonious fusion of traditional influences with contemporary design principles sets a new standard for cultural spaces. With sustainability at its core and a commitment to creating spaces that inspire, the Nanhai Arts Centre is poised to become a beacon of creativity, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a transcendent blend of art, tradition, and innovation.

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