Cultural megastructures and Chinese cities in the 21st century: the case of grand theater

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

View graph of relations


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-15
Journal / PublicationArchitecture Asia
VolumeSept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


The 21st century has seen an unprecedented urban construction wave in China, during which more than 400 grand theaters have been erected. The number of theaters in China that have been either newly built or renovated over the last two decades surpasses the total number of theaters that have been constructed in Western countries since the end of World War II. This study examines the production of cultural megastructures in China and identifies the motivations behind this production. Any increase in material wealth is usually accompanied by a demand for high-quality cultural consumption, and the desire to enhance a city’s status spurs on the production of artistic spaces and glamorous landmarks. These motivations make cultural megastructures both an arena for international architects and a gentrified space for the city’ elite. This article queries and discusses the performance of grand theaters in cities, with the goal of establishing a more effective way of evaluating public cultural buildings. The authors hope to make a case for a more justifiable and accessible usage of public cultural buildings to serve the majority of people.

Research Area(s)

  • Cultural buildings, megastructures, grand theaters, Chinese cities, design

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.