Officially inaugurated February 2019, the Dunhuang Grand Theater in Northwestern China is located in an extreme climate at the edge of one of the world’s largest deserts. PENETRON ADMIX was specified to provide reliable protection for the below-grade concrete structures.
Situated in an oasis on the border to China’s Xinjiang desert region, Dunhuang was once a major crossroad and a key trading post on the Silk Road leading into Central Asia. Today, this city of almost 190,000 inhabitants is an important tourist attraction and the site of the renowned Mogao Caves (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and numerous archaeological projects. Because of constant overgrazing of the surrounding lands, the Kumtag Desert has reached the edges of the city.
The Dunhuang Grand Theater project, adjacent to the city’s Silk Road International Convention and Exhibition Center, features two below-ground and four above-ground floors. The main building is 35 m (115-feet) tall; the construction footprint was 31,200 m2 (343,200 square-feet) in size. It serves as one of the main venues of the Dunhuang Silk Road International Cultural Expo, an annual event that highlights cultural cooperation and communication among the countries participating in China's global “Belt and Road Initiative.” Upon completion, the Dunhuang Grand Theater won the highest engineering award in China - the Luban Prize - which recognizes outstanding Chinese construction engineering projects.
“Construction of a project as large as the Dunhuang Grand Theater poses considerable challenges; the local climate can be harsh due to both hot and cold temperature extremes and frequent sandstorms coming from the desert,” explains Jozef Van Beek, International Sales & Marketing Director of The Penetron Group. “Incredibly, construction work can be carried out for only five months during the year.”
Penetron China was asked to consult on the project, because a durable concrete mix was required to withstand the local climactic conditions. PENETRON ADMIX was specified as the optimal solution. Soon after the PENETRON ADMIX-treated concrete pour was completed, the concrete structures successfully endured a tough weather test of -16 °C (3 °F) temperatures. The initial construction work of the building foundation and concrete work was completed in only 45 days.
Easily mixed in during batching and unaffected by climatic conditions, PENETRON ADMIX produces a catalytic reaction with moisture in fresh concrete to generate a non-soluble crystalline formation throughout the micro-cracks and capillary tracts of the concrete. This permanently seals concrete against the penetration of water or liquids from any direction, protecting it from deterioration, even when exposed to harsh environmental conditions. The admixture remains an integral part of the concrete matrix for the life of the concrete.
“Penetron’s crystalline technology was proven, once again, to provide an extra level of durability – even in the extreme climate conditions of Gansu Province – that helped keep the project on budget and accelerate the construction schedule,” summarizes Jozef Van Beeck.