Pearls in the City – A Study of Foreign Designed Grand Theatres in China

Project: Research

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From 1980 to 2010, around 400 projects designed by architects from foreign countries were completed. Among all the building types, one attracts our attention - the grand theatre. This typology originated from European cities, and the grand theatre or opera house was always the jewel of the city center and the pride of citizens. In China, more than 150 grand theatres have been built since 1998 in metropolises to small towns, among which more than 30 were designed by foreign architects through invited or open design competitions. Usually consisting of an opera house, concert hall and play theater, these 30+ performing art centers are often reported in mass media and soon become symbol of 'high arts'. Most of these grand theaters are funded by the government as part of 'face-lifting' projects and showcased as 'excellent arts' of design. Serious study and discussion of experiences on these iconic architectural works have not yet appeared.This study aims to fill this gap. We plan to investigate the initiation, selection, and particularly, the operation of and users' responses to these grand theatres. Typical examples will be targeted and studied. The outcomes can vividly complement the existing study of architectural design globalization, contemporary Chinese architecture and theatre design.


Project number7003012
Grant typeSG
Effective start/end date1/04/132/09/14