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Constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it is formally known as the National Grand Theater and colloquially described as The Giant Egg because of its strange, round shape.
It is an opera house located in Beijing, near the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the cavernous Grand Hall of the People, and designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Even if referred to as an egg, the concept began from the idea of imitating a pearl or the rising sun. Whatever image it might express, the purpose of the design is very clear: to impress and be recognized immediately and become an iconic feature, a landmark for Beijing. The construction hosts three functions: the Opera House, at the center of the building, seats 2,398, the Concert Hall, located in the eastern part of the building, seats 2,017, the Drama Theater, located in the western part of the building, seats 1,035
The giant floating egg is surrounded by a man-made lake making the building look like a cultural island, separated from the noisy city life. The simple but expressive exterior is a titanium accented glass dome, measuring 212 meters long, 144 meters wide and 46 meters in height. The ensemble doesn’t impress only through what can be seen but with what lies out of site too; the entrance is probably the most beautiful feature: the exterior shell of the building was not perforated to create an entry point, but instead the architects have chosen to lead people inside through a underwater corridor, beneath the lake and covered with glass so that natural light may be filtered by the water above and create a serene, unique space. The theatre itself is illuminated by a glass curtain in north–south direction that gradually widens from top to bottom.
The design is definitely the key element for this construction but I was particularly impressed with the solution the architects have found for the entrance which does not penetrate the outer shell but goes beneath the ensemble, leaving the structure intact.
Photo courtesy to Paul Andreu with ADPi and BIAD
Area: 219,400 m2
Architects: Paul Andreu with ADPi and BIAD
Project management: Felipe Starling
Main Architects: François Tamisier, Hervé Langlais, Mario Flory, Olivia Faury, Serge Carillon
Client: The Grand National Theater Committee
Type: Arts complex
Location :Beijing, China
Cost :300 M€
Floor area :219,400 m2