Flying monks theatre

The Unesco site of the Songshan Mountain, in Central China, is home to the Shaolin Monastery and is the place where Mailitis Architects designed a theatre focused on flying performances.

Mailitis Architects, Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre, Dengfeng, China, 2017
Riga-based studio Mailitis Architects completed the project for an amphiteatre dedicated to levitation performances on the hillside of the sacred Songshan Mountain in Central China. This mountain is known as a spiritual “Centre of Heaven and Earth” and is home to the Shaolin Monastery, traditionally considered to be the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and Kung-Fu martial arts. For its rich history and cultural impact it was added to the Unesco World Heritage list.


Standing on top of a cypress hill, the Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre’s architectural and conceptual image wants to pay respect to the beauty of the surrounding nature and the historical heritage of the site. Developed in the shape of two symbols – mountain and tree – it serves as a platform for any kind of scenic arts focusing especially on flying performances. The building method combines modern and ancient technologies, like the laser-cut steel superstructure which supports handcrafted stone steps using local quarry resources.

Mailitis Architects, Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre, Dengfeng, China, 2017
Mailitis Architects, Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre, Dengfeng, China, 2017
The building is articulated in four functional areas: the exterior surface, the stage, the interior area and the engine room. The stair surface, apart from its usual purpose, is designed to continue the topography of the territory, to adjust natural lighting for interior and to provide massive air flow for engines. The upper levels shape the embracement for the stage – an amphitheatre with a wind tunnel in the middle. The interior of the theatre is organized in three floors and includes all the necessary premises and facilities for visitors and performers. Technical devices are developed by Aerodium and are anchored in the engine room under the stage.

Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre
, Dengfeng, Henan Province, China
Program: theatre
Architect: Austris Mailitis – Mailitis Architects
Team: Ints Menģelis, Kārlis Melzobs, Dina Suhanova, Valters Murāns, Andra Odumāne, Jekaterina Olonkina
Area: 614 sqm
Completion: 2017

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