KCS Music Box Shanghai

Canadian Designs First Shanghai Outdoor Theatre and Co-Produces Musical

Canadian Peter Fu, Principal at K. F. Stone Design International,designed and patented Shanghai’s first outdoor theatre, which opened to the public on August 1 at Shanghai Culture Square. The main theatre has a capacity of 300 and also includes four smaller stages. All the building materials have been recycled and can be used again. The opening play, “Memories of the Valley,” is an original Chinese musical and is co-produced by Fu.

“Many people say that architecture is a solidified form of music, which indicates a subtle connection between the two art forms. As an architect for 30 years, I was always curious about my happy ‘neighbour,’ and finally I got a chance to step in. I had great fun in it,” says Fu, who has been constantly questioned about why he created a musical as architecture.

Fu says his basic idea is zero damage to the environment when designing the theatre. All the materials are recycled and can be used again, including four containers as stages and walls and wood for the floor. Fu also promises zero waste in the construction, as all the leftover fragments will be used for sculpture and decorations. To keep the theatre cool in summer, the lower part of the walls at the seat level are formed as a wooden lattice, where air can be accelerated when passing through, forming a cool wind in the theatre without air-conditioning.

“It is quite like the carved windows in a traditional Chinese garden structure, which was designed first for lighting and airing,” says Fu. “It is simple and cheap yet effective.”

Though it might not cool the theatre much during the daytime sun, it will definitely promise a comfortable environment after sunset, says Fu. Different from most traditional theatres, the 300 seats are arranged at the center of KFS Music Box, surrounded by four small stages. Instead of concentrating on only one stage, audiences are expected to be attracted by performances that might come from any angle. The rotary seats will enable spectators to switch among different stages, like what they might do with a remote control for TV. But inevitably, most traditional performances made for proscenium stages cannot work at KFS Music Box. Original creative and pioneering works are expected to fit the theatre.

“I think the theatre will not only provide challenge but also inspiration for artists,” says Fu. “The alternative and unfixed space will offer bigger imaginary space.”