A Dance of Waves: MAD’s Vision for Nanhai Art Center

MAD Architects has recently unveiled their plans for the Nanhai Art Center in Foshan City, Guangdong. This incredible architectural masterpiece will encompass a vast area of 59,445 square meters and will be home to the Grand Theatre, the Museum, and the Sports Center. Once completed, it will serve as a captivating and enchanting entrance for the public, seamlessly blending social, creative, and natural elements. Situated in the Nanhai Cultural District, which is the heart of the Guangdong-Hongkong-Macao Greater Bay Area, this development holds great significance as it connects the cities of Guangzhou and Foshan.

Ma Yansong, the founding partner of MAD, has a personal connection to the Nanhai Art Field, having been a participating artist in the largest land art festival in Foshan City. He expressed his admiration for the traditional culture of Nanhai, which can be seen in the drum beats and boat drifts during the dragon festival boat race, as well as the kung-fu performances in the lion dance. Yansong aims to bring this rich heritage back to modern living through the Nanhai Art Center.

Nanhai Art Center, Foshan City, CN / MAD Architects

The design of the Nanhai Art Center is reminiscent of a flowing wave, with three main buildings nestled beneath a floating sun canopy. The semi-outdoor spaces seamlessly merge the central landscape of the lake with the various programs, inviting local communities to immerse themselves in the stunning waterfront scenery.

Nanhai Art Center, Foshan City, CN / MAD Architects

Yansong further explains that the essence of Southern Guangdong’s local culture lies in the gathering of people. In order to preserve this way of life, contemporary cultural venues play a vital role. The design of the Nanhai Art Center aims to provide ample space for such activities, drawing inspiration from the grand eaves of traditional Lingnan architecture.

Nanhai Art Center, Foshan City, CN / MAD Architects

The design intends to build a spiritual field by creating a coherent visual axis to the lake. The programs are planned on both sides of the central axis.  The total floor area of the Grand Theater and the Museum is about 89,269 square meters on one side of the central axis, of which the Grand Theater includes a 1,500-seat amphitheater and a 600-seat multi-purpose hall, for a variety of performances and conferences; the Museum will meet the standards of a national-level museum upon completion.

Nanhai Art Center, Foshan City, CN / MAD Architects

The Sports Center is located on the other side of the site, with a gross floor area of about 32,006 square meters containing swimming pools, basketball courts, badminton courts, and other types of sports spaces and facilities. 

Nanhai Art Center, Foshan City, CN / MAD Architects

The permeable facades allow nature to flow through the site back to the city.  The two-story landscape platform extends outward, organically linking the central lake, riverfront park and urban space, achieving a harmonious balance between nature and architecture.

Nanhai Art Center, Foshan City, CN / MAD Architects

Commercial spaces are placed along the lake, radiating architectural texture to the lakeshore landscape belt. Cultural spaces are interspersed. The second-floor viewing platforms and outdoor patios connect three main functions together, also with the commercial and F&B space below to complete the visitor experiences and loop circulation. The top of the platform serves as a pedestrian space leading to the cultural spaces entrances.

Nanhai Art Center, Foshan City, CN / MAD Architects

The design concept of the Nanhai Arts Center incorporates sustainability and green carbon reduction from the very beginning, creating a narrative of building technology and innovation. With a translucent white ETFE membrane structure roof, the center incorporates energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies such as photovoltaic power generation, rainwater collection, and vertical greening systems. The construction of the Nanhai Arts Center is set to commence in 2024 and expected to be finished by 2029.