Beijing National Theater
Xuefeng Zhang
reports from Beijing

The widely disputed Beijing National Theater is now close to completion and is scheduled to be put into operation in July 2007. The National Theater, located beside the west of Beijing People’s Great Hall and south of Chang’an Street, covers an area of 11.893 hectares, with a total construction area of 149520m2 and total investment of 2.688 Billion RMB Yuan. The main structure consists of a 2,461 seat opera house, concert hall with 2,017 seats, a theater with seating for 1,040 and a public hall together with support facilities covered by an exterior steel


structure shell. Outside, the steel structure shell is a semi-ellipse form, with its plane projection latitudinal long axis of 212.20m, south-to-north short axis of 143.64m, construction height 46.285m and embedment depth of -32.5m. The ellipse roof adopts a titanium metal surface in the surface and glass curtain wall in the centre. The theatre is ‘floated’ in a man-made lake with an area of 35,500m2, and the main entrance and channels all are under the water. On June 10, 2006, 46 Chinese academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering signed jointly to express rejection of the theater design to the Central Committee. The collapse of Paris’s De Gaule Departure Hall E2 on May 23, 2004 and accusations of fraud in the theater bid caused greater criticism for the National Theater program. But it seemed that these did not postpone the project. It succeeds politically, however great its disputes are over economy, over esthetics or even over technology. The theater is located near sensible Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, and its vanguard image of rejecting convention will definitely bring in a revolutionary new surface and outline new historical contour line for Tian’anmen Square region. Of-course, its visual image not only brings new political and cultural


atmosphere to Tian’anmen Square and its history, but also becomes a milestone in architecture choice in Beijing. After the project was confirmed, other world players were appointed, Jacque Herzog and Pierre de Meuron brought their ‘Bird’s Nest’ for the Olympic Games grand stadium. Norman Foster designed the new Beijing Airport, and Rem Koolhaus designed the CCTV Mansion etc. Now, Beijing has become a merry land of new architectures and the stage for architects to demonstrate their ability.

Editorial, Beijing

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