The Flying Monks of Mailītis Architects’ Wind Tunnel Amphitheater

The Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre, built by Latvia’s Mailītis Architects in the Songshan Mountains of central China, incorporates a branch-like wind tunnel at its center which is used by the monks for levitation. The amphitheater itself plays homage to the region, matching the nearby mountains and hills, while the wind tunnel structure references the cypress trees surrounding it all. The area happens to be the home of a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Shaolin Monastery, and stakes claim to the birthplace of both Zen Buddhism and Kung-Fu. Within the amphitheater, weekly performances will highlight the history of both—incorporating the flying acts. This is a tremendous use of future-forward materials and technology to emphasize a rich past.