Located about 25 Km South of Kunming City, on the North-East shore of the scenic Dian Lake, this new development aims to become a First Class destina­tion for local residents as well as national and international tourists. Our goal is to take advantage of the local resources and enhance their charm and strong potential while promoting the local identity. The distinctive characteristics of the area are the outstanding natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and the migratory routes of the seagulls coming from Siberia resting along the shores of Dian Lake.



For these reasons, Dian Lake has been selected as one of the potential sets for the world-famous Zhang Yimou’s Impressions, a series of performing art shows where the natural surroundings become part of the scene, characterized by an impressive amount of actors and extras, synchronized choreography and unique theaters design.



In order to encourage a consistent and sustainable visitors flow, we propose a well-rounded approach that combines practical design solutions for the local de­mand of ‘Culture’, ‘Shopping’ and ‘Eco-tourism’.



The urban planning program distribution follows the existing terrain’s conditions: split into three portions by two artificial canals, each zone is characterized by a dominant function. The commercial heart of the development is the central zone which is fur­ther divided by a third canal that separates the mixed-use area from the Wellness Retreat village to the South.



The strong public component of the design (wetland park, public pedestrian areas, enhanced sustainable mobility, public neighborhood facilities) together with the in­frastructure developed around the required program, will both serve the visitors’ needs and generate the virtuous guidelines for the future district’s growth.



Performing Arts, Music and Entertainment are bond together with a strong Com­mercial component which is the backbone of the whole development and link to the existing urban fabric. A Wellness Retreat village including a five-stars Hotel is located on the south border, facing and merging with the Wetland Park surrounding the site along the lake’s shores.



The public space links all four main areas of the development on multiple levels and according to a hierarchy based on the function that the space is serving. It has a strong relation with the landscape and it’s designed to give the users different levels of intimacy and always a different atmosphere along the pedestrian paths. The purpose of it is to always change the visitors’ perspective and to tease their curiosity providing always different scenarios.




The green system is functionally organized according to the role of each green zone. The whole urban development is designed to gradually merge with the surrounding wetland park. Larger public green areas are a buffer zone at the edge of the site. The water network is also implemented and waterfront pedestrian areas run along the canals. Pocket green areas and the urban landscape design serve each building changing their features according to the function.




The numerous offices and serviced apartment towers located on the more urban North- East edge of the master-plan, complete the existing urban fabric and are inspired by the iconic ‘junks’, the ancient local boats that once sailed over the Dian Lake.



Zhang Yimou’s Impressions are one of the most unique theatrical experiences available in China today. The theaters are designed to host one and only specific performance that takes place only once or twice a year. In every Impression, the surrounding natural landscape is integral part of the set and in many occasions, it becomes the protagonist of the scene. Therefore the stage location must enhance the views towards the surroundings in order to create the perfect background for every scene.




The Theater is designed as a simple extruded square floor plan with a curved roof lifting its corners towards the lake. The shape reminds of a seagull spreading its wings and it is inspired by the spectacular bird migrations to Dian Lake every year. The inspiration for the design also comes from local architecture specific features such as the decorative pointy roofs of City gates and Temples. We wanted the architecture to be easily recognizable, bold and iconic, but subtle enough not to take away off the audience’s focus from the show.



In Dian Lake Impressions, the performances will start from inside the theater and, via a moveable seating platform for the audience, slowly move to the outdoor artificial lake where the beauty of the backdrop will be finally revealed.



Through an iconic Architecture design staging one of the most unique theatrical experiences, a strong commercially-driven urban planning and an outstanding natural landscape ideal for eco-tourism, we fulfilled our design scope: a First Class tourist destination in the ‘Spring City’ of Kunming.




Kunming, Yunnan, China




400 ha


2,055,000 sqm






Concept Design


Urban planning