By Stefania Danieli
For the second chapter we present a project completed in 2007 which has already been recognized by most of Chinese people as a symbol of the city: the National Center for the Performing Arts (in Chinese 国家大剧院, literal translation: National Grand Theater).
The project was designed by the French Paul Andreu Architects and is also known as “The Giant Egg” evidently because of its shape. The building is located on Chang’an Avenue, separated from Tian’anmen Square only by The Great Hall of the People, just a few steps away from the Forbidden City.
The “giant egg” is a dome measuring of 212 meter lengths, 144 meters width and 46 meters high. It is placed at the center of a man-made lake looking as a floating island. A giant shell made of glass and titanium covers the whole space, including an opera house with 2,416 seats, a concert hall of 2,017 and a theater that fits 1,040. According to the architects, “the glass opens the building like a curtain which we move away showing the interior: theatres, exhibition and public spaces. The titanium protects and covers, creates shadows areas more secret” – Paul Andreu Architects.
The main entrance is at the north side of the building, through an apparently invisible hallway that goes underneath the lake.
The project revealed to be an extremely expensive investment for both the national and local government, costing in total more than 3 billion Yuan (almost 500 million US Dollars), with more than 60% of annual operational costs to be subsidized by the government forever. Anyways, architects indeed succeeded in the objective of designing for Beijing an iconic building to be immediately recognizable.
Paul Andreu Architects are already an old guest of China, having designed a lot of inspiring buildings throughout the country. Among the most famous and already completed we remember Shanghai Pudong Airport, the Jinan Grand Theater and the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.
If you liked this post, why don’t you check out also our previous blog “Postcards from contemporary Beijing” about Phoenix International Media Center? Follow the link: http://chinarchblog.com/2014/04/24/postcards-from-contemporary-beijing-the-phoenix-international-media-center/
Paul Andreu Architects - www.paul-andreu.com
Stefania was born and raised in Italy, where she took a BA in Languages and a MA in Business Communication at the University of Perugia. She fluently speaks both Mandarin and English, and by now has been living in China for over two years. Having been raised in a country rich of history and culture like Italy, she has always had a strong interest in art and architecture, which led her right through the Chinese landscape design industry. She is currently working as Marketing Director at Beijing’s based America Leedscape Planning and Design Co. Ltd.