Lake of Illusions - CODAworx

Lake of Illusions

Submitted by ECA2

Client: OCT Shanghai Happy Valley

Location: Shanghai Happy Valley, China

Completion date: 2016

Project Team


Jean-Christophe CANIZARES






Where poetic storytelling meets offbeat architecture.
Lake of Illusions is a permanent nighttime spectacular built at the heart of Happy Valley amusement park in Shanghai. This exciting attraction is a symbol of modernity and an icon of contemporary culture.

By day, the tower is a soaring inspirational sculpture standing out in every dimension. It’s a true 360° icon that dominates its setting and intrigues the park’s visitors with its 32 meters high and 15 degrees of inclination.
By night, the landmark transforms into a spectacular multimedia feast for the senses combining architecture, light, sound, video, water and dazzling effects.


Shanghai Happy Valley approached ECA2 after seeing their work for the Big O in Korea. The brief was to create an iconic structure for their park that was impressive, modern, visible from a distance, and include a high-tech Multimedia show. The show was to have a capacity of 1000 people with day-time and evening shows, and be fully automated.

Happy Valley wanted the icon to be an eye-catching sculpture by day, and to transform into an integral part of the show at night. It was to be the first thing the guests see upon entering at the end of the avenue to the lake.

It needed to be contemporary, and match the feel of the inside of the park without hiding any of the attractions. After many designs, the result is a narrow slanted tower symbolising a sword, located on the existing lake in the centre of the park. The tower contains lights, jets and mist sprays all contained within the waterproof structure.

The Icon slopes to one side, so as guests move around the lake, the perspective of the Icon changes, which is great for repeat visits as the show will look different from different angles.


The partnership between OCT Shanghai Happy Valley and ECA2 has been a collaborative one.  Whilst there have inevitably been some cultural differences and challenges of managing multiple teams across different continents, the project has flourished through detailed communication and discussion. 
“It is easier to work with theme park people than some of our previous projects, say for real estate development, as they can easily imagine details like crowd management and have the operations and maintenance people in place already,” said Canizares.
The size of OCT’s operation helped during construction of the Icon and the show, as OCT are used to large-scale construction and have the infrastructure in place already. 
At the end of the Lake of Illusions Show, both logos are projected onto the two water screens as a sign of the friendship between the two companies.

Additional Information

To make Lake of Illusions even more special, ECA2 spent one year in R&D to develop a unique new effect called Spiro screen®. This innovative system uses rotating water jets to produce a giant spectral surface where video, light and laser images can be viewed as never before. The spectator is awestruck: where is it all coming from? How is it possible? “The intention of the patented Water Screen wasn’t to make money, the point was we were staying ahead in terms of new technologies, development and innovation,” said Jean-Christophe Canizares, CEO of ECA2.