One of Shanghai’s numerous new signature buildings, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center rises from its patch of Pudong like an enormous set of pet bowls awaiting, perhaps, a gargantuan robo-dog en route from the Future. Or, following the party line, it resembles nothing so much as a five-petaled butterfly orchid (it helps to view it from above from a helictopter to get the full butterfly effect).
Regardless, its a striking building. French architect Paul Andreu is the man behind its sleek, gravity-teasing forms, and its smooth laminated glass skin covering an outward-facing textured “pebbled” interior wall carries on a playful architectural conversation with Shanghai’s unique building mix of contemporary and traditional, Chinese and Western qualities—both spaceports and classical gardens come to mind when contemplating Andreu’s work.
Inside, the huge arts complex is home to a five distinct spaces: the entrance hall, Performance Hall, Concert Hall, Exhibition Hall and Opera Hall. Again, the building evokes nature and classical landscapes with sleek, high-tech means: Sunlight filters through the glass walls onto dark woods and granite floors, effectively creating something of the ambience of a shaded forest floor or garden retreat.
Performances are a mix of Chinese and intrenational touring symphonies and performance companies. On any given night, you’re as likely to find a piano recital or Western orchestral performance as an erhu concert or contemporary Chinese event. Check out the OAC website for the latest details.