Located at the Wuhou district in Chengdu, China, the Chengdu City Music Hall complex balances cultural components within a dense urban environment disconnected from its traditional connection to nature. The traditional Chinese landscape paintings or shan shui paintings – ‘shan’ refers to mountain and ‘shui’ to river – are evolved from the surrounding Sichuan landscapes. The use of positive and negative spaces in this art form portrays an interesting balance between the physical and the ephemeral. These relationships were explored in how to balance the ‘imagined’ creations of the performance venues and school of arts with the ‘tangibles’ of the buildings which contain them. The physical line between the tangible and the ephemeral was celebrated as a stepped public series of connected terraces. Beneath these terraces are the varying volumes of venues below. Above these terraces are topographic bamboo gardens which provide an impression of the surrounding mountains. These accessible terraces step from the tall dense urban fabric towards the west and down to the more human scale pedestrian district to the east. The eastern edge is defined by an informal plaza which connects the project to the river and the arts district through the pedestrian ‘Music Avenue’.