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.



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 located very close to the edge of a natural peninsula protruding towards the center of the lake, which makes the building clearly visible from the lake side. Seagulls are common guests of Dian Lake, therefore we wanted to design a building that reminded the aerodynamic sinuosity of their bodies and the elegance of their wings in the act of landing. The result is an iconic design which sculptural simplicity of the form makes it easily recognizable but still does not take away the audience’s focus from the show.





The shape follows the function and adapts to its surroundings. According the master plan framework  the plot adjacent to the Theater will be destined to retail and F&B. Here, a pedestrian commercial street separates longitudinally the low-rise commercial units and ends to the North in a large plaza across from our site. The spiral shape of the building hints at an ideal continuity of the commercial experience for the public visiting the area. The shopping experience doesn’t necessarily end with the commercial street but continues with the Theater’s restaurant and culminates with the public panoramic platform located on the rooftop.



The Theater’s program requires a total of four performance stages with the fourth and last stage being the artificial lake outside the building. The concept behind Dian Lake Impressions is to give the audience a seamless sequence of shows taking place in different rooms with different themes which reaches a climax with the outdoor performance.  For this reason it was necessary to strictly follow a sequential order of the rooms and establish a straight-forward indoor circulation.



We decided to wrap all the indoor spaces around a central public space core, meant to bring natural light inside the building and hosting the spiral ramp leading to the panoramic platform on the rooftop. Starting from the lobby area located to the South, the three indoor stages are located in sequence, with the third and last indoor stage located on the West side facing Dian Lake and the mountains.



From the third stage room, a moving platform will slowly take the audience outside the building, sliding over the artificial lake representing the fourth stage where the beautiful natural background of the mountains will be finally revealed. Once the show is over the audience can choose to move to the adjacent commercial street or back to the Theater’s foyer.



The surrounding public space penetrates the building to its core and culminates with a public panoramic platform located on the rooftop. By creating a circulation loop that makes the building accessible to the public, we integrate the Theater with its surroundings and we encourage a more intimate relationship between the visitors and the architecture.



The facade of the building is once again inspired by the seagulls silver plumage. Seagulls take up to four years to attain their full plumage which varies from pale grey to black. We tried to recreate the elaborate pattern of their wings’ feathers through the repetition of longitudinal metal panels varying in brightness and reflectivity in order to mimic the subtle nuances in the feathers color.












Kunming, Yunnan, China




24,900 sqm






Concept Design