Tan Dun | Water Heavens
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Situated on the riverbank, facing an ancient Buddhist Temple, is a house mixing the styles of the ancient Ming Dynasty and the German Bauhaus. It is designed by the renowned Japanese architects of Isozaki Studio and composer Tan Dun.


The pillars and floor can be played as musical instruments, and a stream of water flows into the hall to form a pond, creating a stage. In the Water Music Hall music can be seen and architecture can be heard.


The integration of a unique architectural structure with the performance connects our inner selves to our surroundings, brings the outer world in to meet our spirituality. The contrasting sounds of water, iron and other natural instruments suggests Tan Dun’s idea of “architectural music,” where heaven and man become one.


“My ultimate goal for Water Heavens is to create a space where the architecture is an instrument that can be heard and played,” says Tan Dun.


“The performance begins with Steel Rock and Roll, a rhythmic beat using the steel beams and stairs. Out of this emerges the monks chanting from the temple opposite the hall. Then a string quartet plays Bach, and is joined by rock and roll played on the surface of the water on the floor of the Water Music Hall.”


“The oculus, designed by Hu Qian, becomes a water instrument. When the water drops from the heavens, the effect is like a gigantic symphony orchestra.”

Every Saturday evening in the summer, the hall in Zhujiajiao reverberates with music.


“Just like the ancient poem states: ‘If you have the sound in your mind, you don’t need to have a physical instrument to make music.’”